Done Deals – Vista Travel Adds Two Travel Groups –

Thoma Cressey Equity Partners last month closed on the first four acquisitions for its travel tours platform Vista Travel Ventures Inc.

Vista Travel added resort packages specialist Kingdom Vacations and Leisure Travel Development, which is comprised of three diving trip operators – Tropical Adventures, of Seattle, Dive Tours of Houston, Tex. and Adventure Express, based in San Francisco.

Thoma Cressey vice president Chris Osborn declined to comment on the transaction value or revenue figures for the four companies.

Osborn said the firm was attracted to the industry because of its demographics. “The leisure travel industry continues to benefit from the aging baby boomer generation. There is a broader acceptance of vacation travel as a regular event.”

The firm invested $30 million in January 1999 to launch Vista Travel with vacation vending veteran John Martinen. The capital came from the $770 million Thoma Cressey Equity Partners VI, which closed in May 1998.

Thoma Cressey said Martinen, former chief executive of Globus & Cosmos, has been in the tour operating business for 30 years and is an invaluable asset to the new company’s operations.

“In the collective sense, it will be able to satisfy almost any type of travel demand-by destination, special interest, city-stay or resort vacation, escorted tour or foreign independent travel, bargain-basement or deluxe,” Martinen said in a statement.

Martinen said a representative of each acquired company will sit on the Vista Travel board and each seller will be an equity partner in the platform company.

“Our collection of companies will share a common, state-of-the-art technological platform, marketing and sales, worldwide availability and access to capital,” Martinen said. “We will create a new way to sell travel.”

Additional acquisitions, with the aim of expanding distribution areas or geographic destinations, are in the works for Vista Travel, Martinen added.