Ted Bravos, Founder and CEO of ITMI

Ted is an industry pioneer, thought leader and visionary. He helped develop the first state-approved school in the United States, designed specifically to train tour directors and tour guides. When he is not filling his role as primary instructor, he remains active as a tour director, leading thousands of people to all parts of the world. After obtaining a Bachelor of Science Degree from California Polytechnic University, he served as a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. Since 1970, he has been employed as a tour director and consultant for some of the most respected tour companies in America. A distinguished thought leader and expert, he has been a frequent speaker at industry events, featured in many magazines and newspapers and been a guest on countless television and radio programs.

Bill Newton, Founder of ITMI

Bill worked in the field of travel for 40 years. His experience included: travel agent, group tour planner-consultant, motorcoach operator, guide, driver-guide, and tour director. For years, he organized and led tours to Alaska, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Internationally, his specialties included Russia, Eastern Europe and South America. He wrote numerous articles on tour directing and about legal issues affecting the tour industry. He was a nationally recognized lecturer and conducted seminars at nine National Tour Association Conventions. Dr. Newton held an MA. Degree in Sociology from U.C. Santa Barbara and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from U.C. Berkeley. Sadly, in 2002, Bill passed away doing what he loved, touring in South America.

Our Story

ITMI was founded in 1976 by Ted Bravos and the late Bill Newton. At the time of ITMI’s inception, tour guiding in America was largely a part-time summer job for college students or teachers who had little or no training. In Europe, tour guiding had already developed as a profession with a formal education and certification, meeting the highest standards of quality.

As seasoned travellers, Ted and Bill observed the vast difference between the two industries and envisioned the concept for the International Tour Management Institute (ITMI): A North American school that would give tour guides and tour directors the knowledge, practical skills and real-world experience to safely and confidently lead tour groups domestically and around the world.

ITMI was born. Over the years, ITMI has evolved to meet the changing needs of the explosive tourism industry. ITMI continues to be actively involved with leading professional organizations including the National Tour Association (NTA), the American Bus Association (ABA) and Tourism Cares.

ITMI Through the Years

The Inspiration for ITMI…


1965 After listening to President John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you…” speech, Ted Bravos (ITMI Co-Founder) answers the call by signing for the Peace Corps.

1969 While serving as a U.S. Marine officer in Vietnam, Ted decides “whatever I do with the rest of my life had better make sense and somehow help make this world a better place.”

1970 Ted embarks on a solo bicycle odyssey through 17 countries in Europe.

1971 Ted leads his first group tour to Death Valley, California with Continental Trailways.

1974 Ted’s dad sends him an article from the New York Times about ASTA proposing a National Certification for Tour Guides in preparation for the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial.

1975 Ted’s mentor, Tom Maupin, asks him to develop a 15-day Alaska Inside Passage tour, prompting Ted to start talks with fellow Tour Director, Bill Newton, about founding a Tour Directing school.


The ITMI Adventure Begins…


1976 ITMI is founded by Ted Bravos and Bill Newton. They obtain approval from the California Department of Education to open the first school in North America to train Tour Directors and Tour Guides.

1976 First 7 training courses are completed in San Francisco, California. ITMI becomes a member of the National Tour Association (NTA).

1977 ITMI becomes a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

1980 First Hollywood class (2 classes per year for 3 decades).

1982 First Special Destination Marketing Organizer (DMO) Training in Tampa, Florida Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB).

1982 First Special ITMI Training Program designed for the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee.

1983 First Special Regional Training Program held in Chicago, Illinois.

1983 ITMI is featured in “Great Escapes,” on Ballooning and Barging in Burgundy, France for Metro Media in Hollywood.

1984 Special Training Program for the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles.

1984 CNN television feature on ITMI.

1986 First Special Regional Training Program in Seattle, Washington for Expo 1986 held in Vancouver, Canada.

1987 First Regional Training Program in Boston, Massachusetts (2 classes a year for over 2 decades).


Symposium Begins and we Celebrate 100 Classes…


1987 First ITMI Symposium & Reunion

1990 ITMI celebrates its 100th class!

1993 ITMI is invited to present at a historic White House Conference on Travel & Tourism working towards developing our nation’s first National Tourism Policy.

1996 First Special 3-day Cruise Host / Tour Director Training Program to Mexico.

1997 First Special Training Program to the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Arctic.

2000 Millennium Symposium & Reunion celebrated on the island of Hawaii.

2003 Partnership begins with Tourism Cares.

2005 ITMI is featured on William Shatner’s TV show, “Heartbeat of America.”

2007 First Special “Bank Travel” Training in Wisconsin, Texas and California.

2009 First Special Chinese Mandarin Training Program.

2010 ITMI celebrates 7,000 graduates worldwide!

2011 First Special Motorcoach Driver Training Program.


25th Annual Symposium and 40th Anniversary is around the Corner…


2012 ITMI celebrates its 25th ITMI Symposium & Reunion in Sacramento, California.

2012 Sacramento recognizes Ted Bravos and ITMI as Travel Pioneers.

2012 “Human Trafficking Awareness” Training is added to ITMI curriculum.

2012 Partnership begins with Group Tour Media and eTravel Blackboard.

2013 ITMI feature in National GeographicThe New York TimesKiplinger Magazine and Travel Pulse

2014 ITMI graduates its 8,000th student.

2015 ITMI Celebrates its 300th class and is featured in Travel Weekly!

2016 ITMI looks forward to celebrating 40 years!


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