Student travel firm STA has ceased trading in the UK, saying the coronavirus pandemic has brought its industry to a “standstill”.
In a statement on its website, it said anyone with a live booking would receive “further communication in the coming days”.
It said: “Unfortunately our travel experts are unable to assist you at this time,” adding that it was “sorry for the inconvenience”.
The company, which specialises in package tours for backpackers, has more than 50 stores across the UK.
It is yet more bad news as COVID-19 plunges Britain into the deepest recession on record.
STA Travel UK said the pandemic had left it “no choice” about whether to continue.
It added: “Over recent months, we have taken decisive measures to secure the business beyond COVID-19.
“However, sales have not picked up as anticipated due to consumer uncertainties, further restrictions and renewed lockdown measures, which are expected to largely continue into 2021.”
It added that its Swiss parent company, STA Travel Holdings AG, had filed for insolvency.
The editor of Which? Travel, Rory Boland, said many other companies “will be on the brink of collapse” and urged the government to “urgently step in to provide much-needed support”.
He added: “Anyone with a booking, still waiting for a refund, or those holding a refund credit note, will be able to get their money back through the CAA’s Atol scheme.
“Flight-only tickets booked with STA should still be valid. Passengers should contact their airline to check.”
Andrew McConnell, spokesman for Atol, which protects UK holidaymakers against the risk of their travel company collapsing, said it was a “sad day” for a “long established business”.
A spokeswoman for the travel trade association, Abta, said STA’s demise would “send a shockwave through the
She added that it was “distressing news” which will “sadly affect the livelihoods of hundreds of employees”.
Earlier this month another company, Hays Travel, said it was cutting up to 878 jobs from a workforce of 4,500.