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Lonely Planet

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So much to do, so little time, but Tony Wheeler still managed to visit 22 countries last year.

The story behind Lonely Planet founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler appeared yesterday in the Wall Street Journal -"Since its launch in 1973, Lonely Planet has sold more than 100 million guidebooks to far-off lands, from Antarctica to Zambia and everywhere in between."

. . .the journey that sparked Lonely Planet. . .took the Wheelers overland from England to Australia in six months. In 1970, Mr. Wheeler had met 20-year-old Maureen, newly arrived from Belfast, on a London park bench. In 1972, after Mr. Wheeler graduated from London Business School, the couple set off on a trip that took them through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal and southeast Asia. (They drove a beat-up Mini, which they sold in Afghanistan for a profit of £5.)

When they arrived in Melbourne they were left with 27 cents in their pockets. They hadn't intended to write a guidebook, but ended up penning an account of their travels on their kitchen table in Australia and stapling the pages together. In 1973 1,500 copies of the 96-page guide sold out in two weeks.

. . .This past February the Wheelers sold their remaining 25% stake in the company to BBC Worldwide for £42.1 million (about $69.5 million) after selling 75% in 2007 to the same buyer for £88.1 million.

With the sale came the birth of Planet Wheeler Foundation.

This is the kind of creative entrepreneurship which people such as President Obama don't understand. Oh, well, it's only been going on in Britain for over two thousand years.

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