How the Company started
In 1976 Christopher Whinney walked, following the route of the ancient Via Francigena, from London to Rome, to write a commissioned book.
He was to produce his own illustrations and maps to accompany the text.
The route was not nearly so well marked then as it is now. Much time was taken map-reading.
He walked 23 miles a day, stopping every fourth day to rest, as the Romans did.
Across the Alps: On rest days he sketched maps of the route to chronicle the journey.
Arrival in Piazza Navona, Rome, 1976 – after walking from London
He enjoyed the experience so much, that in 1979 he founded a company to introduce a new, or rather to reintroduce the oldest, concept in travel – making journeys on foot….
One of the Company’s earliest brochures
In the beginning…
Concerned about entering an industry that, at the time, had a reputation for ‘destroying its own resource – the environment’, he established the business on principles of conservation and sustainable development, and reactive product development based on client feedback – principles that still define ATG Oxford. Christopher remains the owner and Managing Director of ATG.
Long-term strategy has been to invest in the quality of the trips, rather than in publicising them, believing that recommendations from satisfied clients are the best form of advertising. This has meant investing in research to ensure we have the very best itineraries, and meticulous controls to maintain quality.
‘The very best itineraries’ – Southern Tuscany
What has ATG achieved?
Since 1979, what has ATG – a pioneering venture – really achieved?
- Journeys on foot have become a niche travel product.
- Hundreds of miles of original ATG routes, still used by ATG and maintained by ATG Route Managers, have been marked and are regularly used by local people and visitors.
- ATG ‘opened up’ various ‘new’ areas for successful tourism; pioneered environmental ‘best practice’ in tourism; became a recognised ‘brand’; one a few (worthwhile) awards; and participated in Sustainable Development projects in various countries.
The Cinque Terre – photo by Jayne Gissing
But the real achievements come from ATG clients…
ATG has been made what it is today by our clients. Through listening to what our clients tell us and acting on their suggestions we have been able to consistently delight them, and virtually everyone who travels with ATG rates their overall enjoyment as excellent or good. As a result we have not had to advertise these trips for many years: almost everyone comes through personal recommendations. Our clients return year after year through decades of their lives, telling their friends… and fashioning the trips and setting standards through their feedback. Without our clients there would have been no ‘pioneering venture’. ATG clients are ATG – and the achievement is theirs!
Cortina and the Dolomites – photo by Francis Oravetz
To learn more about how the Company has developed, click here for ATG’s ‘Principles in Action’