HUNDREDS of Hyndburn folk have had their holidays thrown into chaos following the collapse of a leading travel company.
XL Leisure, the country’s third largest package holiday group, went into administration, leaving thousands of people stranded abroad and others forced to scrap their holiday plans.
Among its trading companies are Kosmar, Aspire, Travel City and Medlife Hotels.
Roy Newsham, 63, of Marlborough Road, Accrington, was due to go to Stalis in Crete for two weeks with his partner Sheila Proctor, 56, today (Friday).
Roy, who works as a window cleaner in Accrington town centre, said: "We booked our holiday online through Kosmar.
"We have been told that we should get our money back because we were ATOL protected but we have no idea when.
"We have managed to book an alternative holiday to Kos but we couldn’t get a flight until October.
"It was difficult to find anything for around the same price.
"I thought it was a wind-up at first. Sheila is absolutely gutted. This is our first and last holiday of the year which has made it even more disappointing."
Travel agents have been besieged with anxious customers but have urged people not to panic.
Christine Parkington, manageress of Accrington Travel Worldchoice, was on the Greek island of Rhodes when she heard the news.
She said: "We were lucky. I made some phone calls and was able to get us back on Sunday."
She added: "A lot of people don’t do their research when they book a holiday.
"They book on a whim. You should buy insurance and read your policy, and pay with a credit card whenever possible.
"Also, make sure you are aware of the airline’s and hotel’s cancellation policies."
Rachel Power, manager of Althams Travel on Little Blackburn Road, Accrington, said agents had been rushed off their feet since the announcement was made.
She said: "We have been able to rearrange holidays for customers who booked directly with us but those who booked online through XL are having more difficulties.’’
She added: "We have seen companies close in the past so we know what to do."