STA Travel collapse costs Kiwi holidaymakers tens of thousands in unrefunded bookings

Would-be holidaymakers who booked through STA Travel could be left thousands of dollars out of pocket after the company filed for insolvency.

It's the latest agency to fall victim to the pandemic and Kiwi travellers claim they're being left in the dark after paying for holidays they can't go on.

This April, Nik and his wife Caitlyn were meant to be on the honeymoon of their dreams - with seven weeks of sangria, siestas and sightseeing across Europe.

But COVID-19 cancelled those plans - along with the $20,000 they forked out for the trip.

"We saved and worked hard. It was sort-of heartbreaking or a bit gutting," Nik says.

The couple booked their flights, insurance and a seven-week Contiki tour through global agent STA Travel last year.

They've been trying to get a refund for months, but now the situation has been made worse with STA's Switzerland-based parent company filing for insolvency.

In a statement it said: "The company has taken decisive measures to secure the business beyond COVID-19. However, sales have not picked up as anticipated.

"As a consequence, STA Travel Holding AG, is filing for insolvency. In the next few days, an external administrator will take over and determine next steps."

It's just the latest travel agency to go bankrupt due to COVID-19. And it might not even be possible for would-be holidaymakers to get their money back because STA isn't part of New Zealand's Travel Agent Association.

"They do have a consumer fund which can kick in when one of their members goes belly-up, if one of their members fails there's money to help consumers affected," Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson says.

Newshub can reveal the Government is now stepping in to help travel agents and their customers.

On Monday the Tourism Minister and Commerce and Consumer Minister will meet with New Zealand's Travel Agents Association to discuss how they can manage the current COVID climate.

But this doesn't help people like Nik and Caitlyn who are left in limbo - instead of enjoying the start of their married life together.