London’s oldest tour operator goes bust

London’s oldest tour operator, the Travel Club of Upminster, has gone into administration after “very difficult trading conditions” left it unable to guarantee payments to overseas supplies. Its subsidary Austria Travel has also ceased trading.

Its administrators, Shipleys, said the holiday company was “unable to continue trading as a result of an inability to meet guaranteed payments to key overseas accommodation suppliers”.

The agency was not bonded because it sold accommodation independently of flights. This left customers at some hotels in Majorca being asked to pay their bill a second time.

Only a few dozen customers are thought to have forward bookings, and have been informed that the most likely chance of getting a refund is through their credit card company, although they can also file claims with the administrators.

The Travel Club of Upminster was established in 1936 by Harry and Rene Chandler, following a cycling tour of Switzerland. The family then started selling package holidays to Portugal – and are credited with “discovering” the Algarve as a holiday destination.

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After the Second World War, the firm expanded across Europe, initially selling packages from Bournemouth to Basel. However the past decade has seen the rise of low-cost airlines undercut its business model.

Paul Chandler, who sold the business two years ago, said: “I’m sad that a pioneering company which provided holidays to hundreds of thousands of travellers is no longer able to compete in the increasingly consolidated industry.