Tourism

Three local travel companies collapse under the weight of COVID-19

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

The tough operating environment facing the travel industry has proven too much for three Australian companies.

According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, two of the three businesses were placed into liquidation last month, while another was place into voluntary administration.

Travel Express Courier Systems Pty Ltd, which traded as Travel Express and Tex Visas, was wound up on 27 March, ASIC’s records show.

The company was contracted by travel agencies to prepare visa applications for their clients.

In a statement to Travel Weekly, Jirsch Sutherland national managing partner Bradd Morelli, who was appointed as liquidator of Travel Express Courier Systems, said the COVID-19 pandemic certainly played a role in the company’s collapse.

“As Australia and the world closed their borders, nobody was applying for visas to travel anywhere,” he said.

“Based on current claims and creditors, there are 24 creditors owed $885,000. It’s early stages, so this number is likely to change. Jirsch Sutherland continues to undertake investigations.”

Morelli noted there were no ‘burnt’ customer creditors to Jirsch Sutherland’s knowledge – that is, people who put money down for a holiday or tickets and didn’t receive them.

Just four days later, Travel Asia Pty Ltd was placed into liquidation following a general company meeting.

Setter Shepard, the firm appointed to wind up the company, refused to provide any details on Travel Asia’s collapse to Travel Weekly.

As its name suggested, the Sydney-based company operated tours to Asia, and is understood to have counted the likes of Sichuan Airlines and Luxury Escapes among its partners. Travel Asia also had its ATAS accreditation cancelled when it was placed into liquidation.

Meanwhile, Horizons Group Travel Pty Ltd is effectively no more, having gone into voluntary administration late last month.

Established in 2001, the company specialised in providing fully customised tours for sporting and education groups to destinations across the entire globe.

In a LinkedIn post last week, Horizons Group Travel managing director Michael Edwards said he was “devastated” that his company had been forced to concede defeat, blaming the “destructive” COVID-19 pandemic and resulting travel bans.

“We had sought support from our major shareholder to weather the storm, but facing their own challenges, they were unable to provide any support,” he said.

“The heartbreaking decision was therefore made to put the company into administration, meaning my time and that of the rest of our team is at an end with Horizons.

“Thank you to all of our clients, suppliers and partners for the last 10 plus years of working together to provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

“I am now onto searching for my next challenge and hope there is a chance to work with many of you again or that our paths may cross at some stage.”

New South Wales Basketball Association Ltd is a shareholder of Horizons Group Travel, with the tour company having operated out of the Basketball NSW offices in Homebush as a separate entity.

Jennifer Dean, chair of Basketball NSW, said: “Having considered a range of options on how to navigate its ways through the decline in inward and outbound travel booking due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the global pandemic was a core reason for the travel agency’s downfall.

“Horizons Group Travel has unfortunately joined what has become a long list of financially distressed businesses due to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Travel Weekly has contacted the company’s administrator, Rapsey Griffiths Turnaround + Insolvency, for comment.


Featured image credit: iStock/Gwengoat

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