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Business Directory

Michael Warren

TropicNow reporter

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Iconic local tourism company sold in surprise multi-million dollar deal

Fred Ariel and his Raging Thunder business have been at the forefront of the Tropical North's tourism industry for decades, but a new chapter awaits with the sale of the long-standing business.


Raging Thunder's co-founder Fred Ariel says he’ll spend more time behind the wheel of his prized 1969 Corvette Stingray and take time to enjoy a few longer lunches after the surprise decision to sell the legendary local tourism company.

Mr Ariel, who has been at the helm of Raging Thunder for 27 years said the “timing was right” to offload the iconic local business to tourism and leisure company Skydive The Beach for more than $15 million.

Mr Ariel and fellow owner Denis Cole will leave Raging Thunder on October 31.

Raging Thunder Adventures became the first commercial white water rafting operator to conduct tours on the Tully River way back in 1984.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Raging Thunder, it’s been a hell of a ride and a lot of fun,” a reflective Ariel told TropicNow.

“The tourism industry in Cairns continues to go from strength to strength and I’m really proud to have been a part of it.

“It’s the closing of the chapter, not the closing of the book.

I’ve got other pursuits to pursue, but firstly I might enjoy a few longer lunches and take the opportunity to take my car for a drive or two.”

While unable to pinpoint his favourite memory at Raging Thunder after nearly three decades of service, the proud - and now former - co-owner is satisfied the company continues to provide unique and new experiences to customers.

"Most recently we've gotten into the canyoning but whether it's been our rafting experiences, ballooning or simply enjoying Fitzroy Island or the Reef, I'm really happy we offer activities that locals and tourists can really enjoy."

Executive director of Skydive The Beach Anthony Boucat was happy with the developments, and noted Raging Thunder was servicing around 100,000 customers per year.

He said the acquisition of Raging Thunder would help create "Australia's largest adventure company".

"Raging Thunder Adventures has built a solid reputation of providing memorable and sustainable adventure experiences within the world's most unique natural habitats," Mr Boucat said.

"We are thrilled to be able to diversify our offerings and bring these once in a lifetime adventures to more Australians and international visitors."

Fellow Executive Director Anthony Ritter said: "Consumers today want to enjoy unique travel experiences that get their heart pumping and test their limits.

"Aligning with companies that share our values for safety, high-quality and sustainable adventures will fast track our growth and ensure that more people can enjoy those unforgettable experiences for themselves.

"We are on our way to becoming the biggest and the best adventure tourism and leisure company in the world."