STA Travel has become the latest travel firm to fall victim to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The company, which grew out of a student travel business and specialised in trips for young people, including gap years and volunteer projects, has ceased trading.
STA Travel has more than 50 shops in the UK.
The firm said customers with bookings would “receive further communication in the coming days”.
“We are sorry for the inconvenience and the limited information available to you at this time,” a statement on its website said.
Around 500 UK jobs are thought to be at risk as a result of the firm’s failure.
A spokesperson for the Association of British Travel Agents said the news would “send a shockwave through the industry, bringing to life the very real pressures that travel is under at the moment”.
“STA Travel will be a name that is familiar to most people who will have used them to travel or been aware of their name on the High Street, and this distressing news will sadly affect the livelihoods of hundreds of employees,” the spokesperson said.
“People will have used STA Travel to book package holidays as well as individual air tickets. The majority of holidays sold were flight inclusive packages, which are protected by ATOL and scheduled airline tickets only which should proceed as normal. Non-flight based packages will be protected by ABTA.
“If customers booked a package holiday through STA Travel, and the holiday is provided by another tour operator, they will need to contact the tour operator who should be able to confirm that their booking will go ahead as normal.”
ABTA directed customers to its website for further advice.
The Civil Aviation Authority said it was aware of “a number of consumers whose bookings have been cancelled by STA Travel Ltd as a result of government advice or flight cancellations”. Customers whose bookings were protected by Atol would be able to submit a claim through their online portal, the CAA said.