Games stay-at-homes send travel firms bust

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The Independent Online

The number of travel companies going under in the UK in the last 12 months has doubled as the recession, Jubilee celebrations and Olympics kept British holidaymakers at home.

In the 12 months to the end of September, 86 travel agencies and tour operators became insolvent. That was up from 40 in the preceding year, according to accountants Wilkins Kennedy.

Anthony Cork, a partner at Wilkins Kennedy, said: "Summer 2012 had the feelgood factor for most of the UK but unfortunately travel agents and tour operators have had little cause for celebration.

"While the Jubilee and Olympics were presented as a tonic to the double-dip recession, they actually compounded the financial problems in the travel sector."

Continuing uncertainty over the political and economic state of popular tourist destinations such as Greece and Egypt has also hit holiday firms' bookings. Mr Cork said: "A lot of struggling travel agencies needed an exceptional 2012 to help them keep their heads above the water.

"There were expectations of a spike in holiday bookings as Britons tried to 'get away from it all' but this spike either wasn't as large as expected or it failed to materialise."

Recent holiday firms that have gone into administration include: •The five-branch travel agency Enjoy Holidays, which went into administration in August owing creditors up to £1.2m

• Astonbury, trading as Sky Jet, which became insolvent last year after the company had asked passengers on its flights to pay £23,000 to continue their journeys.

• Shenoy & Co, trading online as Reliable Holidays and Economy Travels, which went into administration with a reported 2,165 advance bookings despite having a licence for just 500 passengers. Its failure is said to have cost the Air Travel Trust fund more than £750,000.