STA? The Swimming Teachers Association? A Special Temporary Authority? Or STA, that car dealer based in Sussex?

No, STA as in the travel agency. I always thought of it as the Student Travel Association but it turns out I have long been wrong. Originally, it stood for Student Travel Australia. Or, as they would lately prefer to put it: Start The Adventure.

STA Travel UK ceased trading on Friday, 21 August 2020, claiming it was left with “no choice” following the impact of the coronavirus on tourism.

The company, which started in 1971, made its name with package tours for backpackers and young people.

STA Travel Holdings AG, the travel firm’s Swiss parent company, filed for insolvency earlier in the week.

In a statement, STA Travel UK said that while it had taken measures to alleviate the impact of Covid-19, sales had not picked up due to “consumer uncertainties, further restrictions and renewed lockdown measures”.

Customers with live bookings could only contemplate the limited amount of information available on the company website, referring you to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) to find out what to do next.

Covid-19 has dealt a hammer blow to a travel industry already uncertain; we’d lost Thomas Cook back in 2019 and Club 18-30 the year before that.

Things don’t appear to be easing any time soon. Australian airline Qantas announced it would likely not be running intercontinental flights in or out of Australia until the second half of 2021, unless a coronavirus vaccine is released.

STA had more than 50 stores across the UK; as they close their doors, 500 jobs are lost.

What else is lost? Will future students lose their gap-year globetrotting? Honeymooners their beachtime in Bali? It would be very sad if 2020 turns out to be the year we Stop The Adventure.


“We are opening soon,” proclaims the sticker on the door of my local branch of STA. The homeless knew otherwise.

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