STA Travel has become the latest travel firm to fall victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company, which grew out of a student travel business and specialized in trips for young people, including gap years and volunteer projects, has ceased trading.
STA Travel has more than 50 shops in the UK. The firm said customers with bookings would “receive further communication in the coming days”.
“We are sorry for the inconvenience and the limited information available to you at this time,” a statement on its website said.
About 500 UK jobs are thought to be at risk as a result of the firm’s failure. The firm’s parent company, based in Switzerland, said the pandemic had brought the travel industry to a standstill.
A spokesperson for the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) said the news would “send a shockwave through the industry, bringing to life the very real pressures that travel is under at the moment”.
“STA Travel will be a name that is familiar to most people who will have used them to travel or been aware of their name on the High Street, and this distressing news will sadly affect the livelihoods of hundreds of employees,” the spokesperson said.
Abta says the majority of flights and holidays sold by STA would be protected by the Atol scheme, an insurance scheme which protects holiday bookings. It directed customers to its website for further advice.