A “CRAZY” Rowley Regis couple have launched their own travel agency – in the middle of a global pandemic.
Mark and Kerrie Oakes decided the time was right to launch Not Just Travel after re-evaluating their lives during lockdown.
The couple, of Glaslyn Avenue, said they realise many people will think they are mad to make the move as the travel industry has been hit hard with restrictions and quarantine rules having put off many people from enjoying foreign holidays.
But they believe the travel industry is set to boom as people are itching to get abroad as restrictions lift.
Mark, aged 47, said: “People might say we are crazy given the fact that we are not able to holiday in too many places right now but there really is a pent-up demand in a lot of people to travel.
“We have been inspired by many in this industry who have had a tough time in the last year who have and are holding on to the thought of better days.
“We have done well by starting out in booking holidays to Iceland for this autumn – they are well vaccinated there.”
Mark was director at Halesowen-based Christian charity Christ For All Nations, for 21 years and had time to reflect on his life during lockdown as a lot of his work, which involved staging events, dropped off.
He said: “I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. Lockdown taught me in many ways to slow down.
“Before lockdown I thought I would work there forever, but I focussed on my health.
“I re-aligned many things in life starting with my health.
“I have lost almost six stone in weight having looked at diet and cycled around 2,500 miles in last 12 months!
“I felt more alive and energised than I had in years I felt it was time to make a change, so we jumped in at the deep end.
“We took a step out of charity work into our business at the end of April and are looking forward to helping people visit places they want to go.”
Pictured: Mark before his dramatic weight loss
The couple, who are members of Halesowen’s Lifecentral Church, have a son Jacob, aged 20 and daughter Lydia, aged 17, who is studying creative media at Dudley College and is helping them with designs for their business.
Mark said he enjoyed travelling in his job for the charity, based in Coombs Road, Halesowen, and would visit Florida around six times a year.
He said: “The travel industry has had a mega detox – now piece of mind guarantees are offered, there’s a lot of reduced rates around as well as the flexibility to cancel or shift dates to make it more attractive to people.”
The firm has a website at https://markoakes.notjusttravel.com. Call Mark on 07463 668 573 for details.