John Hays, the founder and managing director of North East-based travel firm Hays Travel, has died.

The news was confirmed by the company on Friday afternoon (November 13).

In a statement, Hays Travel said: "It is with the deepest sadness and regret that we have to announce that John Hays, the founder and Managing Director of Hays Travel died today (November 13, 2020), while doing the job he loved.

"John, who with his wife and co-owner Irene Hays bought the Thomas Cook retail
estate a year ago, was at work in the company's Sunderland Head Office when he

"John built Hays Travel into the UK's largest independent travel agent providing
jobs and careers for thousands of young people over 40 years.

"Throughout this past difficult year he did everything in his power to save jobs
and protect the travel industry.

"He was held in immense respect by his staff, colleagues, family and friends and
was recognised throughout his life for his many achievements.

"He was equally proud of his loyal staff who, under the direction of the board
and senior management team, will ensure that the business continues to serve
the customers of the UK's largest independent travel agent as he would have