Phil Ray was one of the great authorities on the UK travel industry during its dramatic growth during the Seventies.
As deputy editor from inception of Travel News, launched by IPC in 1969, he came to be recognised as one of the leading travel industry commentators of the time.
During his 11 years on the weekly paper, then under the editorship of Gordon Wharton, it was he who was most responsible for the incisive news coverage which saw it challenge its longer-established rival, Morgan Grampian’s Travel Trade Gazette.
Phil came to Travel News (later retitled Travel Weekly) via a number of other IPC Group publications. Immediately prior to that he had been deputy editor of the monthly ABC Airways Magazine, launched to capitalise on the reputation of the ABC air travel timetables and guides. His first employment within the group had been on The Aeroplane, a weekly title for the aviation industry, which he joined in the early Sixties as production editor. His career started on the Brighton Evening Argus, convenient for his home town of Lewes, after which he had spells on Coal News and on angling magazine, Creel.
In researching, writing and presenting stories, Phil was diligent and thorough. Invariably, the Travel News front-page splash was under his by-line, such was his nose for a good news story. Pounding away at his old typewriter, he produced more exclusives and scoops than the rest of the editorial team put together.
Such was the respect and esteem in which he was held by leading figures in the travel industry, they would tell him things they would tell no other, knowing that a confidence would be respected and he would write stories that were fair and balanced. His knowledge of the travel became encyclopaedic.
After leaving Travel News, much of his time as a freelance was spent translating into English and editing publications for the Swedish Tourist Board. In between, his passion was walking on the South Downs and growing fungi and vegetables, many of which ended up in culinary efforts with which he entertained guests. Although his puff-ball omelettes were not considered a great success, visitors invariably left with a bag of home-grown produce.
He died on 8 April, aged 75, after several years of poor health.