Thomas John Stodart founded Mackenzie River Travel (MRT) in January 1989. Established as a specialist ground handing agent in Scotland, MRT would grow to become the second-largest inbound tour operator to the UK. MRT was believed to contribute in excess of £800M to UK tourism by 1998. Headquartered in Edinburgh and with operation centres in both Edinburgh and London, MRT operated sales offices in New York, Paris, Zurich and Milan.
October 1994 MRT Group establish Excel Ltd their specialist Incentive and Corporate Travel business. Focussing on Scotland as a destination for large incentive travel groups, MRT welcomes Chanel, Peugeot and Hotelplan amongst their first incentive groups to be welcomed to the UK.
April 1998 Mackenzie River Travel acquire Aspect International based in London. The third-largest tour operator in the UK has been acquired by Mackenzie River Travel Group. John Stodart found of MRT Group commented that the acquisition of Aspect International provided greater geographical coverage for its UK portfolio of travel products. Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines would not feature the hotels, inns and services contracted by MRT. Combined staffing exceeds 190.