And the best-known names in travel are?

Travel trade publication Travel Weekly has revealed who the most recognised and influential names in travel are…so who topped the list? That most dynamic of British entrepreneurs, Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson.

Research for Travel Weekly suggested that 89% of UK adults recognise Branson and 77% rate him as the industry’s most-influential figure. In second place was Monty Python legend and prolific travel writer /TV presenter Michael Palin, at 78% (although only about a third of those surveyed felt he was influential).

EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou made the number three spot. Very much the instantly recognisable face of the easyJet brand, he was identified by 48% of respondents and rated a key player in travel by 29%.

The research was carried out by Explore Research. The firm asked 500 adults who they recognised among 14 of the top names in travel – and just as importantly, who they thought were the most influential.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary came out ahead of former British Airways boss Willie Walsh as a name people know, recognised by 37% compared to Walsh’s 33%. The trusted travel journalist Simon Calder, a familiar face on BBC Breakfast whenever there is important breaking travel news, also scored highly on recognition (30%), as did hotelier Sir Rocco Forte (25%).

Among the other names in 14-name shortlist, none scored especially high on recognition. They included ABTA chairman John McEwan, Thomas Cook chief executive Harriet Green, Tui Travel boss Peter Long, former tourism minister John Penrose, veteran tour operator Harry Goodman and Sandals boss Butch Stewart.

Although most consumers weren’t as familiar with ABTA chairman McEwan and Harriet Green, chief executive at Thomas Cook, one in ten overall did recognise them. The survey was split into age groups and interestingly, young adults (aged 18-34) showed the greatest recognition of McEwan (16%). Over half of older respondents recognised Michael O’Leary and Willie Walsh, two-thirds were very familiar with Stellios Haji-Ioannou and who in Britain wouldn’t recognise Sir Richard Branson? 98% of those surveyed did.

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