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Student travel agency STA Travel files for insolvency as COVID-19 pandemic claims latest victim

Student travel agency STA Travel has filed for insolvency, becoming the latest tourism business to fall victim to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The iconic youth-focused travel advisor chain went into external administration on Thursday, with Consumer Protection today issuing advice for customers who were still owed money by STA Travel.

At its height STA Travel, founded by two Australian backpackers in Melbourne in 1979, had 70 retail stores across Australia alone.

By this year, it had shrunk down to 35 shops.

STA Travel was originally an acronym for Student Travel Australia, however, the well-known travel agency later branded and became Student Travel Association and “Start The Adventure”.

In a statement its Swiss-based parent company STA Travel Holding AG said “the global magnitude of the pandemic crisis has brought the travel industry to a standstill, including STA Travel, a student and youth travel company.”

Since March, Consumer Protection has received 27 complaints against STA Travel.

Of the 27 consumers, 15 were given full or partial refunds while a further seven received credits.

The remaining five complaints were not able to be resolved, according to a statement from the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

Consumers still waiting to receive refunds or who hold credits are being advised that they will need to lodge a claim by sending an email to statravel@deloitte.com.au.

“Those who paid by credit card but did not receive any travel services, should consider contacting their credit card provider and requesting a chargeback,” the statement said.

Information related to travel affected by COVID-19 is available on the Consumer Protection website.

Enquiries can be made by email consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 30 40 54 during office hours.

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