The Master of the Travel and Tourism Game

Rene Mendes a name well known in tourism circles in Goa highlights on his days in the travel business, his love for the Portuguese language, all things Goan; and never hanging up his boots

If there is one name which is synonymous with the travel and tourism industry in Goa, it is that of Rene Mendes. This March, he completes 50 years of service in the travel and tourism industry. He is one of the founding members and former President of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa and can be best described as someone who refuses to retire. He has studied in Portuguese as well as English medium and is proficient in both languages.
His family originally hails from Chandor and he grew up in Panjim. Being the youngest of eight siblings, Rene was very adventurous and would spend the afternoons after school and holidays cycling around the city.
After his father passed away, he started selling Mario Miranda postcards. Rene wanted to do something to make a name for himself. He then joined a non IATA travel agency where he self taught himself to read air tariffs and the ABC time table. This was just the start of his journey in the travel trade and he later joined Aero Mundial.
Then he was offered a job as in-charge of GSA of British Airways. Rene went to London where he trained with British Airways and later visited Lisbon where he distributed brochures from the Tourism Department and hotels in Goa, to various travel agents in Lisbon.
After 20 years as Manager of British Airways, Rene decided to take a break and joined Journeys Tours and Travels, who were handling Inspiration Charters; as General Manager for Goa and South India. Having learnt about incoming tourism, he branched out to join outbound services at Cox and Kings as Manager for Goa.
He was given the idea to bring all tour operators under one umbrella and thus the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) was born. He was elected the President and initiated a classroom for Goan youth on travel and tourism with support lectures from the managers of the travel trade in Goa.
He was also elected President of Clube Nacional in Panjim. When he was the President he and his committee wanted to have a dance that would be open for all. At that time, his brother who was in Brazil would send him various magazines about the Carnival in Brazil. It was from there that they got the idea to have a dance and thus the Red and Black dance was born, which is still going strong, even today. He was also a visiting faculty at the Trade Wings Institute of Travel Management. He would train youngsters in the travel trade and fix them up with jobs in various travel agencies. He has collaborated with CEOs of international airlines, diplomats of various countries and local transporters.
As luck would have had it Rene became a Portuguese interpreter for visitors from Portugal. His interest in Ancient Goan history was piqued and he began handling Portuguese groups from various tour operators. Recently he has completed a crash course in tourism.
Rene feels that Goa needs to maintain its ecosystem and greenery while having a proper garbage management system along with preservation of heritage, in order to retain its place as a premier tourism destination on the world map.
His passion and zest for Portuguese continued and his dedication for the language was seen when he was elected President of the Indo Portuguese Friendship Society (IPFS) – Goa which he has been a part of since 2001. Presently, he is the Chairman of the General Assembly of IPFS-Goa. Till date Rene loves to propagate the language and culture and it is something he is proud of.
An extremely humble and down to earth person, Rene is very helpful and never hesitates in lending a helping hand to those who request for assistance.
He is a firm believer in the fact that learning is a never ending process and no matter one’s age there is always something new to learn every day.
His first love is his family, old friends and traveling. He owes his success in the travel trade to his family; especially his wife Pamela and his children. “I have to thank Pamela who always supported me. When one is in the travel business, it is not easy with irregular schedules and odd work timings, not to mention the travelling. But Pamela and the children have stood by me always.”
Currently Rene is on the lookout for Goan families who are willing to open their houses for guided tours, to visitors of Goan origins who are visiting the State from Europe, USA, and Canada, either on a nostalgia trip or for leisure.
He plans to write a coffee table book about Goa someday. “I just need the time and a good photographer along with someone who can put my thoughts into words.”
When asked about his future plans he laughs and says, “I have yet to retire and would like to continue being a tour counselor and show off the Goa I know and love. I plan to continue till my knees give way. Meeting and interacting with people of different nationalities give me much joy and it is something I absolutely enjoy and I would like to continue doing so.”

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