Vladimir Gavrilovich Raitz was born in Moscow, the child of a Jewish medical family. His mother took him to Germany to join her parents leaving his father behind in Russia. They were there during the rise of Hitler. His mother remarried a Pole and they moved away to Poland where his stepfather was killed at the Katyn Forest massacre.
His grandparents, his mother and he moved again and established themselves in London. He attended Mill Hill School and the London School of Economics, later becoming a journalist for Reuters.
In 1949 he took a holiday in Corsica and a friend suggested he encourage more British tourists to the island. It was he who first conceived of the package holiday.
He calculated that by chartering an aircraft he could organise all-inclusive fortnight holidays to Corsica for under £35 and subsequently founded the Horizon Holidays organisation. His venture was funded by an inheritance from his grandmother.
In 1950 the first Dakota DC3 flight took off from Gatwick and delivered his first eleven package tourists for a camping holiday; the tents were fabricated from US war-surplus canvas. He charged them just £32 10s (£32.50), later with volume this was reduced to £25. At the time a British citizen was only permitted to take £50 in currency out of the country each year. Horizon skilfully priced the stay element of the trip within this limit, the flight being paid in sterling within the UK.
By 1952 Raitz had begun organising package tours to Palma in Mallorca, then later added Málaga. By 1954 he was flying groups to Perpignan in France as the closest airport to serve the Costa Brava. In 1970 his organisation also invented the Club 18-30 concept.
These early beginnings would blossom so that by 1959 some 2.8 million package tourists flew into Spain and by 1969 Spain was receiving 19 million foreign visitors every year.
In current times Spain has regularly been in the top five of the most-visited countries in the world annually recording well over 50 million visitors.