Europe Holidays Managing Director Chip Popescu knew he’d found his calling in the travel and tourism industry after a three-year stint as a ski instructor in Romania’s premier ski resort, where he learned to cater for holidaying Europeans and their every need.
Fast forward to the present day, the warm and cheerful Popescu has more than 25 years’ experience running the Magic Tours International group of companies under his belt. The group has grown to include Select World Travel, iFly and most recently, Europe Holidays.
Following his degree in tourism from the University of Melbourne, Popescu started as a European ski holiday specialist, but quickly moved into holidays to Europe more broadly as he identified a need in the Australian market.
“Europe, especially Eastern Europe, was not well catered for when we started out,” he explains, in his characteristically chipper nature.
“In 1992, not long after the wall came down, Eastern Europe was seen as travel’s ‘new frontier’ – places like Prague and Budapest were high on people’s lists of places to go.
“Now we’re seeing newcomers like Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and even Montenegro really becoming trendy.”
While Popescu waxes lyrical about all of Europe, when pressed he nominates Spain as his favourite destination, singling out Malaga in the south and Barcelona.
“La Sagrada Familia is truly an amazing experience. What they’ve created of Gaudi’s masterpiece is unique; it’s out of the ordinary.”
Popescu advises first time travellers to Europe to do their homework before setting off.
“It is worth researching and having a bit of an understanding of the culture, history and geography before going so you make the most of your trip. Europe has such a high volume of cultural influences, there is so much to experience, that not having any knowledge is not advisable.”
“Get a sense of the cuisine as a start – with Australia offering such a wide variety of restaurants and cuisines now, you can familiarise yourself and get a sense of the food types, spices and cultural elements.”
“You’ll have a much deeper and more profound experience with that little bit of knowledge.”
Its depth of knowledge of Europe is something that the Europe Holidays team prides itself on.
“Being European myself, having team members from all over Europe and partners on the ground, Europe is our passion. Our understanding and how well we know the region really is our point of difference; with it we can help you have an amazing experience.”