Renaissance Tours is Australia’s leading operator of special interest and cultural tours and cruises in the fields of opera, music, ballet, art, architecture and gardens. The company prides itself on offering Australia’s finest collection of unique, meticulously designed and operated expert-led cultural experiences for the discerning traveller.
The company was founded in 1996 by Hugh Hallard with a tour to the Chicago Lyric Opera’s production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle for the Patrons and Friends of Opera Australia. Since then, a long-term association has developed between Opera Australia and Renaissance Tours, with well over 120 opera tours arranged to date.
In 1999, the company introduced ballet tours, designed to introduce ballet lovers to the world’s great ballet and dance companies, followed shortly afterwards by a program of music lovers’ tours, featuring performances by the great orchestras, conductors and soloists of the world – all in the company of music experts.
Since 2002, Renaissance Tours has also developed, in partnership with the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales, a very successful specialised program of art, architecture and cultural tours, led by academics from Australian and international universities, curators and staff of the Art Gallery of NSW, and some of the country’s leading art critics.
The company’s tour collection is made complete with a series of garden and short break tours, as well as a number of exclusive river and sea cruises.
Evan Petrelis – Managing Director
Evan joined Renaissance Tours in May 2016 following a long-standing interest in special interest and cultural travel. In October 2017, he acquired the business from founder Hugh Hallard.
Prior to joining Renaissance Tours, he had a successful 20-year career in communications and public relations consulting, including roles in organisations including Airbus, McKinsey & Company and PricewaterhouseCoopers, and with agencies including Sefiani Communications Group and BWD.
Born and raised in South Africa, he has a Masters degree in translation and interpreting. Apart from his mother tongue, English, he speaks German, French, Portuguese, Greek and Afrikaans.
Kathleen Olive – Head of Product
Kathleen Olive has more than fifteen years’ experience designing and leading small group cultural tours, with a specisalisation in tours to Italy. For a number of years she taught Italian language, literature and history at the University of Sydney, before taking up a position in research management at Western Sydney University. Kathleen is an art lover and keen gardener, and is determined to finish at least one crochet project.
Fanny Gibert – Product Manager
A French native speaker from Paris, Fanny has been passionate about travel ever since she started travelling with her family as a young child. Since then, she has lived in many different countries and explored every continent except Antarctica (so far). She holds an undergraduate degree in languages and a Master’s degree in tourism. She worked in India as a Branch Office Manager for a travel company for several years and loves traveling in this ‘incredible’ country. Before moving to Australia, she returned to her native France and worked for five years as Asia Product Manager for France’s largest travel group, organising tours throughout Central Asia, the Himalayas and the Indian subcontinent. She likes hiking, experiencing different cultures and tasting exotic new foods.
Alice Rose – Product Manager
After studying bachelor degrees in Laws and International Relations in Queensland Alice moved to London where she spent time working as an au pair. Upon returning to Sydney she was selected as a graduate for Australia’s largest travel company where she was involved in the roll out of the company’s responsible travel charter, as well as planning a diverse range of itineraries. Alice enjoys ocean swimming, anything from Italy and searching for the best pastries a city has to offer.
Suzana Milosova – Client Services Consultant
Originally from Macedonia, Sue has lived in Sydney for most of her life. With over twenty-five years’ experience in the travel industry, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role. A passionate traveller, Sue has spent a lifetime visiting Europe, the USA, South Pacific and Asia and enjoys the different cultures, food and people she has encountered on the road. Sue is a wonderful cook and loves to entertain family and friends.
Rebecca Kitlinska – Head of Operations
Born and raised in Sydney, Rebecca has over 13 years’ experience working in the tourism industry, both within reservations and operations. She lived overseas for 4 years, volunteering with an elephant sanctuary in Thailand, working as an English teacher in Italy for 3 years, with a brief stint in Poland, before returning home to the beaches of Australia which she loves. Rebecca is passionate about all things travel and her favourite destination is Laos.
Jordan Sibthorpe – Operations Manager
Lisa Taylor – Operations Manager
Sheridan Packer – Graphic Designer
With over 20 years’ experience in publishing and graphic design, Sheridan loves Flamenco dancing, soccer and archaeology – her interests in the Byzantine Empire piqued after a trip to Turkey. She has snorkelled with sting rays in the Great Barrier Reef, surfed in Biarritz and flown over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon. Inspired by street fashion in New York, Paris and Milan, she enjoys artisan coffee and is happiest with bare feet and salty hair.
Daniel Gao – Finance Manager
Born in China, Daniel arrived in Australia at age 16, where he studied and graduated from UNSW. He started with Renaissance Tours as an intern, and was later offered a permanent position with us – his very first job. He loves to travel, and his favourite sport is Soccer.