Willamette International Travel opened in August of 1977, in Portland, OR. The agency’s history is directly connected to the life of its founder, Christina Cooper.
Christina was born in the English countryside, outside of London. After working and attending college in the British capital, she made her way to the South Pacific where she spent 3.0 years and in the final 6 months of this adventure explored Japan, Hong Kong, USA & Mexico.
The pursuit of discovering the world and conquering her space in it continued and, by the mid-70’s, Christina was managing a travel agency in NE Portland (Oregon). Through determination, hard work and undeniable passion for travel, the next step was to lead her own agency, and, by August of 1977 Willamette International Travel was born. Christina’s work ethic, travel knowledge and contagious personality translated into a successful business with an extensive following of loyal clients.
In its early years, Willamette International Travel set up shop in the beautiful Mohawk Galleries in downtown Portland.
“It was a magical location, our offices looked out into a beautiful courtyard, the owner of the building had imported from Italy fountains, amazing sculptures and artwork”.
Over the next 20 years, the agency moved to a few unique office locations, settling on statement properties and decorated in ways which love for travel could be felt oozing out of its walls.
In 2000 the agency made its final move, taking residence in the Irving Street Lofts building, in the prestigious Pearl District in Portland, OR. It has now been there for over 20 years. Clients often enjoy visiting WIT for its unique and worldly atmosphere – it inspires travelers and staff alike.
The travel industry has not been a stranger to the multiple world crises that took place in the past few decades, but Willamette International Travel has survived it all.
The Travel Agency Industry was just recovering from major changes when 9/11 happened; that event devastated the world of travel for over a year and, just as people felt safe to explore again, the SARS virus hit Asia.
“It was as though we were in a 10-year ugly cycle. After SARS, came the financial crisis in 2008. We were so glad to see the end of that decade!”
In the early 2000’s the internet was embraced by all, and many said travel consultants would no longer be needed, and would not survive. But Willamette chose to invest in their staff with training & trips throughout the World so they could become compassionate citizens of the World and in turn better Travel Consultants.
The 2010’s were a good decade for the travel industry, but the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has forced all to re-invent themselves. This time, however, Christina believes the public realizes that a travel consultant is as needed as any of the other professionals they consult in their daily lives; she predicts travel consultants will thrive and survive.
“I am so proud of the staff at Willamette during the last 18 months, even when not being fully compensated, have stayed on top of clients cancelled trips, making sure they get their credits and are now working hard to re-create the clients dream.”
In July 2019, Christina began transitioning into a well-deserved retirement, and started the process of selling Willamette International Travel. Although the pandemic complicated the retirement goals, Christina plans on taking the next 18-24 months to reinvent her life, alongside her husband John.
Africa is one of Christina’s favorite destinations. The safaris, the rich natural environment, the different cultures in all the neighboring countries, the opportunity to make a difference.
Here, we have Nabulu, one of the elephant orphans adopted by Christina.
Together, they plan on taking multiple Africa trips and hope to see other parts of the world while visiting family and friends.
“Eventually, these visits will last a few months, as we wish to spend quality time with close friends and family around the world”.
From leaving home in the UK in her early 20’s with a rucksack and minimal savings, in pursuit of herself and the world, to establishing a thriving and respected business that survived all the lows of its industry, the restless traveler in Christina and her long-tested skills and willpower are the reason many have now been on their dream vacations.
“I have been able to enjoy amazing places & wonderful people. I think we all learn when we travel outside our normal comfort zone, that people anywhere have the same hopes & dreams as we do”.
Check out some of Christina’s travel photos!
As a team, our travel professionals have visited every continent and have decades of travel experience. That means they have evolved and adapted as the industry has changed and shifted.
Rely on us to book the trips that are more complex than a couple clicks of the mouse. Each of our consultants look forward to arranging new and exciting or unique itineraries and helping their clients check off their bucket-list adventures.
Call us at 503.224.0180, e-mail email@example.com or check our Agents’ page to get expert support on your next trip!