Last year they sold a majority interest in Lonely Planet to BBC-Worldwide, but are still closely involved with the company and regularly travel to check out their books and other travel products, investigate new travel possibilities or simply to experience something new. In early 2009 Wheeler also hit the road with a film crew from Lonely Planet TV to film the Laos program for their forthcoming series The Roads Less Travelled.
Lonely Planet was founded after this first trip and is now one of the worlds most successful independent travel publishers, with staff of over 500 and offices in Australia, the USA, UK and France. Lonely Planet now publishes over 650 guides, has over 150 authors, and a three million hits per day Web site. Lonely Planet Australia is the best selling guidebook in Britain.
“When we produced our first guide 28 years ago, we were writing for the way we were travelling. We had no idea how independent travel would grow and what a huge part of the global economy tourism would become.” said Tony Wheeler, when accepting the Outstanding Contribution to Travel Journalism award at the Travelex Travel Writers Awards for 2000.
Tony Wheeler has also been awarded The British Guild of Travel Writers Life-time Achievement Award 2002 and described by The New York Times as the most influential man in travel.