Tour operator collapses, travellers owed thousands

TRAVELLERS have been left more than $50,000 out of pocket after a family-owned European tour company collapsed into liquidation.

The Queensland-based Viaggio Italia Travel went into liquidation last month after it was forced to halt tours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Viaggio operated small group tours to destinations across Italy for more than 30 years and had been planning for its busiest European summer ever in 2020 before COVID-19 hit.

A financial report on the company reveals 34 creditors are each owed between $950 and $5861.

The company's director Gary Francis is owed $14,340 in travel allowances.

It is understood the 34 creditors paid a deposit for a tour.

Viaggio Italia Travel's collapse is the latest in an international tourism sector decimated by COVID-19.

The company had remained optimistic throughout the crisis, offering no-deposit bookings for next year.

"We understand that - because of the coronavirus - you may feel uncertain about paying a deposit for a tour in 2021," its website noted.

"Therefore, until otherwise notified, you can secure your place on a 2021 tour without paying a deposit."

Any hope that international travel would resume to Europe by the end of the year has been dashed as the leaders of major tourism businesses, Qantas and Flight Centre, predict travel won't return to normal until 2023.

Calls to the Viaggio company phone reveal it has been disconnected, however Mr Francis has been contacted for comment.

The company notes $38,787 in refunds from Italian hotels and transfers is outstanding.

It expects, however, just $4294 will be returned by Hotel Garni Corona.

The Alderley-based business promoted its uniqueness on the fact its owners accompanied every tour to Italy.

"No-one has a higher interest in making sure you have a fabulous time on tour because we are 100 per cent committed to ensuring the success of Viaggio Italia Travel," it said.

Damien Lau has been appointed liquidator of the company.

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