Varadero Beach Cuba
Image of Gina Rivas agent at Personal Travel Management

Biography

Gina’s life and career journey can be best described by paraphrasing and combining the two well known proverbs: “One cannot walk straight when the road bends, but all roads lead to travel”

Gina was born in Hungary into an ethnically diverse family of Italians, Austrians and Armenians with even a drop of  Roma blood  in the genetic “soup”.  She grew up surrounded by University students from around the world. With these influences Gina was naturally disposed to become interested in the history tradition and ethnology of different cultures.

Gina left Hungary in 1984 with her then husband and their three toddlers and applied for asylum in Austria. Being fluent in German and Hungarian, Gina found work in the tour and travel business as a tour guide.  She also worked as a hostess in a small boutique hotel in a tourist town by the scenic Lake Neusidl in Burgerland, Austria.  Eventually Gina and her family moved to Manitoba in Canada where Gina obtained her Travel Counsellor and Travel Management Certificates and continued to work in the travel and tourism sector. She eventually became a co-owner of her own agency, and a manager of travel agents.

As much as she enjoyed her career in travel and tourism, Gina said a temporary good bye to the industry in the mid 1990’s. In the next fifteen years Gina graduated from University with a degree in Psychology and studied Cultural Anthropology and Criminology.   She worked in various Social Services, Health and Mental Health positions including social worker, counsellor, group home manager, and team leader of a crisis shelter for youth.

Through the  “Social Services Years” Gina never forgot her love and passion for travel and for cultures. She continued to travel on her own and organized special interest tours for groups and friends. She added Spanish as a fourth language to her repertoire and developed a passion for Latin American culture, history and anthropology.

Gina has been a performer and instructor in Salsa and Latin Dancing, and has a Latin American Cooking Blog. She is an avid photographer, whose photos have been chosen on two occasions as part of National Geographic Magazine’s Daily Dozen selection. Gina has also traveled as a photographer for destination weddings in the Caribbean.

Early in 2015, Gina retired from Social Services but was not ready to settle by any means. Reinventing herself yet again (she has reinvented herself more time than Madonna) Gina combined her passions, skills and knowledge for travel, culture, health and wellness, social issues and volunteerism into a new career with Personal Travel Management.

Travel Specialties

Women only Travel, Small Group Travel, Eco-tourism, Organic Agriculture Tours, Voluntourism, Educational Tours, Health and Wellness Travel, Weddings (including photography), Family Reunions, Special Interest Tours and Corporate Travel Management.

Gina’s favorite destination, and “third home” is Cuba and she is excited about the future of travel and tourism to and from this country. She is especially impressed with Cuba’s excellent medical, cancer, and addiction treatment facilities and she is working with Cuban health authorities to make these available to North American and International clients.

Certifications

Certified Travel Counsellor, Licensed Travel Insurance Agent, International Tariff Specialist,
(BA Psychology, AA Anthropology, Gottman Relationship and Marriage Counsellor Level II., Certified Addiction and Mental Health Worker, Professional Photographer)

Destination Specialties

Europe, Eastern Europe and Mediterranean, Central, Latin and South America, Caribbean, Cuba, Africa, India

Most Memorable Travel Experience

I was driving around a compact rent a car in the isolated and beautiful back roads of Cuba, when my car got stuck in a giant pothole smack right in the middle of the narrow dirt road. No cell phone and no BCAA to call, my first instinct was to panic but I quickly realized that stressing will not do me any good, nor will get my car unstuck from the pot hole. So, I spent an afternoon in the pleasant company of my Cuban co-pilot and personal guide under the shadow of a giant tree, talking, relaxing, reading and napping until another motorist came by who then summoned help from the nearest pueblo. Soon, help arrived in the form of...wait for it....a pair of oxen led by an old and weathered Cuban farmer. This strange and authentic “towing service” pulled my car out the pot unceremoniously and efficiently. This experience prompted me to paraphrase the saying: “not everyone who wanders is lost”, to: “not everyone who is stuck is trapped.”

778-329-9744

Toll Free: 1800 872 9080 ext 344

Fax: 604 739 3610

Send Gina a note, she would love to hear from you!