Seniors abandoned - agent goes belly up
TWENTY-SIX stranded Melbourne seniors have been given a $25,000 lifeline from an Airlie Beach business owner after the sudden collapse of their tour operator.
Customers of Victorian-based companies Seniors Coach Tours, Young at Heart Holidays and Australian Air Holidays were told on Monday their trips had been cancelled because the parent company had gone into administration.
Returning from a trip to Hamilton Island, midway through what was supposed to be the holiday of a lifetime, the group was told by their coach driver to fend for themselves.
In stepped John Carey, owner of Colonial Palms Motor Inn, who put the despairing seniors up free of charge, including meals and transport to their flight on Thursday.
"It's about $25,000 I'm losing on this," he said.
"I can't just turn them away."
Affected traveller Arnold Broekman said he was incredibly thankful for John's act of kindness.
"I don't know what we would have done without John," he said.
"He's already not getting paid by the company so I can't thank him enough for helping us out till we get back to Melbourne on Thursday."
"None of our travel insurance covers liquidation.
"The oldest traveller in the group was 83 years-old."
The group was part of more than 70 people thought to be immediately affected by the Australia-wide closures, with more than 1000 people holding advance bookings for the next 12 months, many paying off part or all of their holidays.
It has emerged that at least one of the embattled tourist operators encouraged customers to invest, reportedly offering higher interest rates than major banks in return for travel discounts.
Attempts to contact directors of the holiday businesses proved unsuccessful yesterday.
Glenn Spooner, of insolvency firm Cor Cordis, said liquidators had been appointed.
"We have been in contact with travel providers to ensure customers' safe and comfortable passage back to their city of origin," he said.