15,000 face holidays nightmare as bust firm leaves them in limbo
The holiday plans of more than 15,000 Irish people have been thrown into chaos after online travel site Lowcostholidays went bust.
Thousands of holidaymakers have been left in a state of shock since the online travel website closed on Friday afternoon.
It now means that people currently on holidays will be forced to pay for their hotel again - or be forced out - despite already having paid Lowcostholidays for the accommodation.
Customers who have already booked their holidays for the coming weeks and months will also be told their accommodation has been cancelled, and will have to pay out again.
Although all confirmed flight tickets will remain valid, some holidaymakers who used the online agent to reserve their accommodation will be at a loss.
For those who booked packages online with Lowcostholidays, their reservation will be covered by the Aviation Commission.
The body will today release details as to how people can start making a claim to recoup their money.
However, sun worshippers who booked accommodation only with the site will have to fork out the total amount again - and then attempt to get their money back from their bank or credit card company.
Verona Caldwell, from Westmeath, told the Herald last night that she paid Lowcostholidays more than €1,500 for her dream holiday to Morocco with her mother, Christina.
Ms Caldwell said she is devastated that their holiday plans have hit a major setback.
"We don't know what is going to happen, I have been trying to contact the airlines and hotels to see what our situation is. Our booking is complex - there are no direct flights to Morocco, so we have to stay over in London.
"The company didn't even tell us it went bust, I only found out when I saw the news on Friday night."
Despite going bust on Friday afternoon, Verona received an email from the company on Saturday requesting that she must pay over the remaining amount owed on the holiday.
"I was stunned when I got the email saying the balance was due. The devastating part is that it's our hard-earned money that we are losing.
"The company could have been a lot more professional in how they handled the situation.
"It's an awful lot of money to be put into the dark about.
"A holiday is meant to be a relaxing time with no stress or worries….this is just not fair," Verona added.
Shauna Lee, from Blanchardstown, Dublin, paid Lowcostholidays more than €2,200 for her holiday - just two hours before they went bust.
"I booked at 3.27pm on Friday and received a confirmation email," she said.
"The next morning my mam phoned to say they had gone bust. I know there are worse things happening in the world, but we're all devastated…it's just two weeks away to our holidays."
She added the family will not be able to travel unless her bank refunds the money within the next two weeks.
The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITTA) has branded Ireland's travel laws as "historic and pre-internet age".
"Every time we speak to a new minister, they say they will look at it, but they never do," ITTA president Pat Dawson told the Herald last night.
"They have no interest in bringing forward legislation. Our travel legislation is outdated, it's well over 30 years since it was introduced."
Mr Dawson said they have requested a meeting with new Transport Minister Shane Ross, although they have not received a response from his office.
The head of Irish travel agents has now called for an investigation into how the company went bust in the middle of the peak holiday season, describing it as "unacceptable".