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 in the UK, becoming the latest travel business to shut down after global tourism ground to a halt as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
A brief statement on the STA Travel website reassured that if any customer had a previous booking, or hold a live booking, they will receive further communication in the coming days. Before the news was confirmed, STA Travel had more than 50 shops in the UK and about 500 UK jobs are thought to be at risk as a result of the closure.
A spokesperson for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said, “The news that STA Travel, which was a long-standing ABTA Member, has ceased trading will 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.”
ABTA says the majority of flights and holidays sold by STA would be protected by the ATOL scheme, an insurance scheme that protects holiday bookings. It directed customers to its website for further advice.
“If customers booked a package holiday through STA Travel, and the holiday is provided by another tour operator, they will need to contact the tour operator who should be able to confirm that their booking will go ahead as normal,” said the spokesperson.
STA Travel, which originally stood for Student Travel Australia, but was later rebranded Student Travel Association, was founded in 1971 and specializes in long-haul, adventure, and gap year travel.
The agency’s Swiss parent, STA Travel Holding AG, filed for insolvency on Thursday but said that it hoped individual businesses could continue trading.
“Over recent months, the company took 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 said in a statement. “As a consequence, STA Travel Holding AG is filing for insolvency.”