The Ellston family had saved for years for their first ever overseas holiday but after their travel agency STA Travel went bust, they are now left with cancelled plans and a $20,000 hole in their pocket.
STA Travel announced its voluntary administration last week after its Swiss parent company filed for insolvency.
Jason Tracy and Timothy Norman from Deloitte were appointed joint and Several Voluntary Administrators (Administrators) to take control of STA Travel Group’s Australian businesses.
It is expected that around 180 staff will lose their jobs.
Cecily and Lee Ellston had planned the trip of a lifetime for themselves and their two kids.
The family had booked flights to Los Angeles, a hire car to Las Vegas, a helicopter flight to the Grand Canyon, another hire car back to Las Vegas and then flights to Hawaii.
Included in all of this was their accommodation, tickets to Universal Studios and more.
Just four weeks out from their trip, the world began closing down due to COVID-19, with the family making the tough call to reschedule to January 2021.
“We found a lot of the hotels were refusing and just wanted to refund our money, which they did to STA,” Mrs Ellston said.
“STA still has that money.”
Mrs Ellston said they only found out about the agency’s demise after hearing it through the media.
“We haven’t received any emails since May, which was regarding re-booking,” she said.
“We’ve never been overseas before and we have all been looking forward to it so much.
“We contacted our travel insurance and they can’t do anything.”
In a statement to clients, Deloitte said it will be “working as quickly as possible to understand the business operations and determine the status of all customers of the companies”.
“The Administrators are investigating possible options (if any) available to customers to allow them to recover any prepaid bookings or continue their travel plans,” the statement said.
Customers are encouraged to contact their airline, hotel or tour operator regarding the status of their bookings.
The Administrators’ office can be contacted by email at [email protected], however expect delays in responses.
Complete Legal and Conveyancing CEO Daniel McKinnon is advising people to contact Deloitte immediately to put themselves on the record.
“Administration is not a good sign but it’s at least better than receivership,” he told the Weekender.
“My advice is to put legal claims on hold for the moment while the administrators work out what’s going on.
“If in the chance they can turn things around then debts will start to be looked at; there’s a very small amount of hope but not much.”
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.