Hundreds of holidaymakers ‘out of pocket’ as tour operator closes

FF TD says tourists are ‘stranded’ in Ireland after Exploring Vacations ceases trading

A view  of Gurteen beach in Co Galway. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

A view of Gurteen beach in Co Galway. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

Hundreds of holidaymakers have potentially been left out of pocket after a Mullingar tour operator ceased trading.

RTS Travel Ltd, trading as Exploring Vacations, has ceased to trade as of Thursday.

A notice posted on the company’s website states: “The board of the company intends to convene a meeting of creditors, to be held on October 3rd, 2018, at which a liquidator will be appointed to the company. Notice of the creditors meeting will be sent to all creditors in due course.

“We deeply regret the inconvenience that may be caused to our customers by the company ceasing to trade. If you have any questions please email customercare@exploringvacations.com and we will endeavour to assist you.”

The rest of the information about the company has been removed from the site.

Exploring Vacations takes upfront payments for arranging trips abroad, mainly for US tourists travelling to Ireland.

A spokesman for the Department of transport, tourism and sport said “officials in the department are looking into the circumstances” of the closure.

“The Department’s primary concern is the position the affected tourists find themselves in. Fáilte Ireland have indicated if visitors need help or information to secure alternative accommodation or services, our tourist information network is more than happy to assist,” said the spokesman.

Cancelled reservation

US tourist Daniel Totten from Detroit told RTÉ’s Liveline he was heading to Galway when his hotel informed him his reservation been cancelled as Exploring Vacations had ceased trading.

“The hotel had no way of contacting the company so we went back to Dublin and got another hotel but we’re spending more money than we planned on spending as a result of this,” he said.

Mr Totten paid Exploring Vacations about $2,000 (about €1,719) for hotels and B&Bs for his Irish trip.

“We kept getting changes to our reservations and changes to location right up to the date we were arriving, so we wonder now if it is because the hotels realised they probably weren’t getting paid,” he said.

Fianna Fáil TD and party spokesman on tourism Robert Troy has called on Minister for Tourism Shane Ross to put a response plan in place to help tourists who have been left stranded following the collapse of the company.

“Hundreds of tourists have been left out of pocket as a result of the collapse of this tour operator. Tourists arriving in Ireland have been left stranded as their accommodation has not been paid for and their transport arrangements haven’t been put in place.

“This is having a significant impact on tour providers [and] bus and car hire companies, to name but a few who have all been left out of pocket. There needs to be an investigation to find out how this happened and where the money paid over to the company has gone,”said Mr Troy.

The Department of Transport and Tourism has been reached for comment.