It is with huge sadness and regret that we have to share the sad news of the death of our founder and chairman of Wexas, Dr Ian Wilson. Ian passed away on Friday 20 November, following a recent cancer diagnosis and sudden complications after surgery.
Ian was an original, a pioneer. He set up Wexas as a bet on the courage of his convictions - a bright idea that evolved into a brilliant company. Ian was an entrepreneur, a talented linguist and a fount of inspiration. After graduating from Oxford, he started his working life in advertising, founding Wexas while still doing his day job.
Ian always believed in his ideals, he believed in travel as an experience, as opposed to a week or two away. The thriving and distinguished company he founded in the Seventies helped hundreds of thousands of people on their way to discover the world. He made it easier for every other traveller, because he believed sincerely in discovery and exploration.
He was himself a compulsive traveller, who picked up his surfboard in his late teens in search of the endless summer and didn’t put it down. He was still surfing in his seventies. Ian went to islands beyond the far-flung, and many of which are still remote today, relishing the challenge. He always did like a challenge.
All his employees were expected to share his uncompromisingly high standards. He took great delight in their dedication to helping travellers discover new destinations. At the same time, he was committed to helping communities around the world through the charitable Wexas Travel Foundation.
Ian was more than an inspiring chairman. He appreciated every step of his journey and helped others on theirs. He is survived by his three children, Mark, Jackie and Thomas, and two grandchildren Otto and Elska. He was extremely proud of them. He leaves them and those of us who worked with him with a fine and admirable legacy.
Katherine Gershon, managing director of Wexas said:
“We are deeply saddened to announce this news. Ian was a pioneer whose ideals about travel as an experience were at his very core. He never, ever, believed that he was wrong about that principle, and rarely ever was.
A surfer at heart, Ian didn’t believe in rules or following the crowd and his adventurous spirit lives on in every Wexas employee. He was a stickler for hiring independent thinkers and people who loved travel as much as he did.
Ian was hugely frustrated by the current travel restrictions and his greatest wish was to see travel open up again and his beloved Wexas back doing what he inspired us to do best.
Everyone knew Wexas was Ian’s fourth child and he was rightly proud of all of his children and grandchildren. Our hearts and thoughts are with all of them at this difficult time.”
Amy Sohanpaul, editor of Traveller magazine said:
“As editor of Traveller, I worked with Ian for over two decades. Every meeting about the magazine was impassioned, given his dedication to detail. An author of several books, he was proudest of being the publisher of a magazine that reflected his passion for travel and independent thinking.
It is a profound professional regret of mine that he will not see the 50th anniversary issue of Traveller in print. We discussed it in depth over the phone just a few days ago. It is sad and hard to believe we won’t be doing that again, but I was grateful and will always remain so, for his unswerving encouragement. Many, many others will say the same. “