Hays Travel founder John Hayes has died suddenly aged 71.
Mr Hays reportedly collapsed while working at the companies head office.
He ran Hays Travel together with his wife Irene and together saved thousands of Thomas Cook jobs when they bought Thomas Cooks UK travel agencies.
A spokesperson for the company said “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.”