A firm specialising in holidays to the Middle East and to Indian Ocean destinations has blamed credit card fraud for its collapse.
The failure of Elegant Travels is the second sudden demise of a British travel company in the past couple of weeks. The earlier collapse, of the online travel firm Lowcostholidays, was blamed on another unorthodox cause – uncertainty ahead of the EU referendum and the fall in value of the pound after the Brexit vote.
Elegant Travels did not supply details of exactly how credit card fraud had triggered its collapse. Most of its clients should be protected, as the company held a British ATOL, which stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licence.
Since 1973, by law, every UK travel company which sells air holidays and flights is required to hold an ATOL. If a travel company with an ATOL ceases trading, the ATOL scheme protects customers who had booked holidays with the firm. It ensures they do not get stranded abroad or lose money. ATOL in some ways resembles Australia’s former Travel Compensation Fund (TCF).
British holidaymakers thus enjoy better protection than their Australian counterparts, many of whom would most likely be unprotected in such an event.
A notice on Elegant Travels’ website says:
Elegant Travels Ltd has ceased trading
We deeply regret to announce that Elegant Travels Ltd has ceased to trade, following being a victim of credit card fraud, despite exhaustive attempts by the directors to rescue the company.
On behalf of Elegant Travels, the directors wish to profusely apologise for the inconvenience and distress that this will cause to its customers.
This notice applies to the following companies/website/brands:
If you have booked a flights inclusive holiday or flights only originating from the UK you may be eligible for a full refund with ATOL since they are protected by ATOL Bond. Please contact ATOL on 0207 453 6700
Elegant Travels lists Emirates, Qatar Airways, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, India’s Jet Airways and Sri Lankan Airlines as airline partners on its website.
The collapse of unrelated firm Lowcostholidays a little over a week earlier, which threw the holiday plans of more than 110,000 travellers into chaos, was blamed on Brexit, albeit indirectly.
One similarity between Lowcostholidays and Elegant Travel is that both operated various companies, websites and brands. In Lowcostholidays case, one of the websites was specifically Australian, bearing the country code .au
The Lowcostholidays administrators, Smith & Williamson and CMB Partners, blamed intense competition for the travel firm’s demise – along with the increased terror threat and uncertainty before and after the recent British referendum on membership of the European Union, the BBC reported.
“The group experienced significant market headwinds in the run up to the EU referendum as holidaymakers delayed decisions. This was compounded by the Leave vote itself and the subsequent fall in value of the pound,” said Finbarr O’Connell of Smith & Williamson.
Lowcostholidays had launched a cut-price “60% off” sale just hours before collapsing into administration. See: Massive collapse puts spotlight on consumer protection
Written by Peter Needham