Vernon Maitland, former owner of Bournemouth-based Excelsior Coaches and one of the leading figures of the coach industry from the 1950s to 1990s, died at his home in Florida on 5 August, aged 92.
He joined the family business in 1947 following war service as a Royal Air Force officer, transforming the company established in 1920 by his father who had spotted a market for local excursions for the many visitors to Bournemouth.
Continental tours became a regular feature from 1950. Pioneering journeys to places that others had not tried became a speciality, Maitland organising the first coach tour to Russia in 1957, the forerunner of many holidays to the then USSR.
In 1965 he surveyed the overland route to India and in 1968 took a team in a Plaxtonbodied Ford R226 on a nine-day journey to Bombay. Ten days after it returned to the UK, the same coach went back to Bombay with a television film crew covering the London to Sydney Marathon car rally.