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Alex Harris, 1921-2013
Alexander W. Harris, 1921 - 2013

Born in September 1921, the remarkable life of Mr. Harris encompassed many of the most significant events of the 20th century. As a young man in Poland, he lost two generations of his family in the Holocaust. Arrested in Russian-occupied eastern Poland and sent to a Siberian Gulag, he and other Polish citizens were subsequently released and conscripted into the Second Polish Army to fight the Nazis. The end of the Second World War found Mr. Harris in a displaced person’s camp outside of Dresden, Germany.

The American camp managers gave the young Mr. Harris a choice – Palestine or America. Alex always said that it was an easy choice and he immigrated to the United States, coming to New York where he founded General Tours in 1947. These were the early days of the Cold War, and Mr. Harris held the firm conviction that travel would build bridges of understanding between his newly adopted homeland and the Continent he’d left behind. With special permission from the Eisenhower Administration, General Tours became the first American company to offer scheduled tours to the Soviet Union.

In the decades since, we have remained true to the vision of our founder. Nearly seven decades later, we continue to offer original journeys that take our guests deeper inside the life and culture of the places we go, enriching their travels with a profound and lasting appreciation and understanding of the world we share.

Alex left us in 2013 at the fine age of 92, but he will always be remembered by his family, friends and colleagues as a brilliant pioneer of the modern American tourism industry.

More than 70 Years of History  

The story of General Tours
and Alexander+Roberts

Right After World War II  

When Alex Harris arrived in the USA from Poland, the ravages of the recent war were hardening into a new cold version of mistrust and hostility. The optimistic, young Mr. Harris knew that travel is a great way to break the borders of distrust in the world. In 1955, Alex was granted special approval by the Eisenhower White House to operate the first scheduled tours to the Soviet Union.

South America in the 1950’s  

Empowered by U.S. enthusiasm for the new United Nations, we headed to the 1954 UNESCO Conference in Montevideo as America’s Flying Ambassadors… 60 years of cruises and touring throughout South America have since followed that first trip.

East Africa in the 1970’s  

On safari in the late ‘60’s, Alex observed that only the wealthiest of world travelers could afford the experience.  He determined to make the thrill of safari more widely accessible and by 1973, General Tours was operating sold-out Pan Am charters to Kenya and Tanzania, the first of their kind.

China and Beyond since the 1980’s  

It wasn’t long after Nixon’s ground-breaking trip to China that General Tours established its reputation as a premier company for Americans eager to see it for themselves. Now our original journeys encompass popular and newly emerging lands all across Asia.

The 21st Century  

With the dawn of a new century, the company continued to innovate and was the first to limit its groups to never more than 16 guests. In 2014, General Tours introduced a new identity inspired by the names of founder Alex Harris and CEO Robert Drumm. Now for 2016-2017, the company has unveiled new journeys across the globe including North America, Albania, Greece + Macedonia, and Ethiopia.