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Date: 02/11/2015

Luxury tour operator collapse leaves holidaymakers stranded

Late August this year saw the collapse of luxury tour operator Exclusive Escapes, a company specialising in travel packages and high-end villa holidays to Turkey. Over 2,000 customers could be left stranded or out of pocket after the collapse, which a spokesman for the company said was due to a 'tough year' for tourism in Turkey, citing the current geo-political situation in the country.

It has definitely been a difficult time for the country since the May 2013 demonstrations in Gezi Park in Istanbul, and following the shooting of tourists in Tunisia the company's bookings took a downturn. The way in which people view Turkey has changed and it is no longer considered as safe a holiday destination as it once was.

ATOL protected

500 customers were on holiday in resorts across Turkey when the collapse of the tour operator was announced, while 1,750 customers had existing bookings in place for future travel. Those who booked their package holiday or flight through an ATOL-protected company will be able to finish their holiday and return to the UK as scheduled, while anyone waiting to travel will receive a refund if protected by ATOL.

Tough times

This news came on the same day that independent villa holiday company Meon Villas closed after a decline in the popularity of villa holidays. The market has changed for villa holiday companies in recent years, as they are now forced to compete with room and apartment rental sites such as Airbnb.

Are you protected?

Booking a flight or package holiday with a UK tour operator usually means you will be ATOL protected and you are not at risk of being stranded abroad or losing money if the tour operator goes out of business; however, organising your holiday yourself by booking your accommodation and flights separately from different suppliers means you won't benefit from ATOL protection if things go wrong while you are abroad or before you jet off.

You may save money by sourcing your flights and hotel separately, but you could be at risk of being stranded or losing any deposit you have paid if the company you have booked with goes out of business. This is why it is a good idea to book your family holiday with a UK tour operator that offers ATOL protection. Don't take the risk, particularly if you are travelling with younger children, as you could end up out of pocket or forced to pay for new flights home.