Tourism

Virtuoso CEO says space will be the next big thing in luxe travel

Ali Coulton

Up until very recently, space travel has largely been a far away fantasy reserved for sci-fi films and the Jetsons.

But with news breaking last month that Virgin Galactic’s first trip into space is mere weeks away, its clear that space tourism will soon be a reality, at least for the ultra-wealthy.

Speaking with CNBC, Richard Branson said the company’s first landmark flight beyond Earth’s atmosphere was “more than tantalisingly close.”

Branson added that he hoped to be onboard an early Virgin Galactic flight “in months not years” with passengers expected to be taking their $250,000 seats not long after that.

Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch has managed to reserve himself a seat on the inaugural flight.

Upchurch, who said he has been involved with the project for years, is very excited about taking off.

“As Richard [Branson] said, we’re still sitting here after watching Niel Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon, and it’s taken this long to make it a reality,” Upchurch told Travel Weekly during a recent trip to Sydney.

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Upchurch isn’t just excited as a consumer, but as a distributor.

There are only two ways to buy tickets, one is direct and the other is through accredited space agents and most of the Australian accredited space agents are Virtuoso,” he said.

When asked if space travel will be the next big thing in luxury travel, Upchurch told us that would definitely be the case.

“There’s one funny thing about selling space. I have yet to run into a client who can take it or leave it,” he said.

“People fall in one or two categories, either it’s their dream, or you couldn’t pay them to go. There is no middle ground.”

According to Upchurch, while space travel is only accessible to those with a spare 200 grand laying around, luxury travel tends to set a precedent and lead to more accessible rates in the future.

And he has very high hopes for this future.

“One of the reasons I love travel is that whenever you go somewhere new it opens up your mind, you see things from a different perspective, and you grow,” he said.

“Every single person who has gone to space, and it’s under 6oo, talks about how life-changing it is.

“How being disconnected from this earth for even a small amount of time just changes your perspective.”



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