Obituary: Matt Lurie (1916-2013)

Ian Kennedy on behalf of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) released this obituary to memorize Matt Lurie, a lifetime member of PATA and twice president of the organization:

Obituary: Matt Lurie (1916-2013)

Ian Kennedy on behalf of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) released this obituary to memorize Matt Lurie, a lifetime member of PATA and twice president of the organization:

Talking with Matt in the months before he died it was easy to get the impression that if he could choose to live his life over again there would be little he would change.

His work, always in one or other aspect of the travel industry, was his pleasure and his passion. As a child he was known as ‘the little wanderer‘ – a tag he duly filled in a peripatetic life which had him living and working in Fiji, Honolulu, Auckland, San Francisco and San Diego before returning to his Sydney home.

When he started work in the travel industry in1948 it was of course in its infancy – or its post war resurgence, depending on your age – and urgently in need of dedicated, professional executives to shepherd and foster its development. Matt was to be one of those shepherds for some five decades.
He began at an embryonic international airline cobbled together as its name suggests from within the Commonwealth, British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines [ BCPA]. He held increasingly important positions with the airline in Sydney, Fiji and Honolulu. He was recruited to Qantas as their first Manager, Honolulu in 1952 and it was there when, as a Director of the Hawaii Visitor Bureau he attended the foundation meeting of what was to become the Pacific Asia Travel Association [ PATA ] – and began a life long involvement with that association.

While BCPA had been his entrée to the world of Pacific Asia tourism Matt transitioned to the famous Matson Shipping Lines and held senior executive positions with the Company throughout its Pacific network. Today, few realize, and probably fewer remember when trans Pacific travel was predominately by sea. In the halcyon travel days of the 50‘s and 60‘s The MV Mariposa and her sister ship the MV Monterey were a constant picture in Pacific ports from San Francisco to Sydney. The Matson product was first rate; its destinations were exciting and beautiful and the era one in which travel, particularly from the US to Australia was enjoying a post war boom – so Director of Sales & Marketing, Matt Lurie had the dream job, which he appreciated and always spoke of with fondness and pleasure.
Given his influential position in the industry and the advent of PATA as ‘the voice’ of Pacific / Asia travel it was inevitable that Matt would play a significant role in its formation and growth. From its inception and particularly in the first few decades of its existence PATA was highly regarded by both public and private sector leaders and it filled a relevant role in fostering the growth of tourism as an industry of significance to the Nations and communities of Pacific Asia. Matt saw in PATA the opportunity to work with kindred spirits to address issues of the bigger picture of the burgeoning tourism industry they were leading.

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Over some 40 years of voluntary involvement he served on numerous committees which backgrounded the organization and was one of few in the history of the Association to be twice elected to serve as its President. Aside from a constant involvement as a member of the Board of Directors, two important milestones which carry his name are the establishment of the Pacific Division office in Sydney and the co – authorship of two volumes of the history of his beloved PATA. After returning home to Sydney in the late 70’s Matt’s network and his wide experience were recognized by business colleagues who sought his services in other sectors, including accommodation, rental cars and convention / business travel through an early involvement with the formation of the Sydney !!!!!

Convention and Visitor Bureau. He contributed to and remained active in the industry until his retirement in 2002.

Matt Lurie is one of a fortunate few who lived to see the tourism industry in the countries of Asia/ Pacific grow and prosper as it has in the 70 years since end of the war in the Pacific – and can proudly claim to have made a significant, tangible contribution to that growth.
Matt will be sadly missed by his loving wife Isabelle his wonderful extended family and friends and colleagues afar.
Rest in peace, Matt – and thanks.

On behalf of PATA:
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a membership association acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of the Asia Pacific travel and tourism industry. In partnership with PATA’s private and public sector members, we enhance the sustainable growth, value and quality of travel and tourism to, from and within the region.” Founded in 1951, PATA is the recognised authority on Asia Pacific travel and tourism. PATA provides leadership and advocacy to the collective efforts of nearly 100 government, state and city tourism bodies, more than 55 airlines and cruise lines, and hundreds of travel industry companies. In addition, thousands of travel professionals belong to dozens of PATA chapters worldwide. PATA is a not-for-profit organisation. Find out more at

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