South American specialist The Independent Traveller has collapsed.

Director Rosemary Sloggett announced the failure of the Surrey-based company on its website.

She said: “With the very deepest regret and sorrow, I have to write to you to explain that The Independent Travellers has had to cease to trade.

“As you are all aware, we have been trying to find a way to operate our Patagonia total solar eclipse tour for December.

“It was our hope that Argentina would avoid the devastation of Covid-19 by its very early lockdown. Sadly this has not proved to be correct.

“The Argentine border remains shut and inbound tourism is not possible. There is no indication that this will change and to complicate matters a 14-day entry quarantine period is mandatory.

“Against this depressing backdrop, like all companies who seek to operate a tour during a commercially sensitive time – such as an eclipse – our contracts mandated very early pre-payment of hoteliers etc. These pre-payments were made and are non refundable.

“As a result of this, the company has no option but to cease trading and take the necessary steps to place The Independent Traveller into insolvent creditors voluntary liquidation.

“Every possible avenue has been explored in order to attempt to avoid this, and it is with great regret and sadness that I write to you.

We are in the process of instructing insolvency practitioners to assist us with this.”

She added: “We realise that this is an upsetting time for all our deeply valued customers but you will understand that this has arisen as a result of circumstances beyond our control.”

The Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that the Atol holding firm ceased trading on October 14

“We are currently collating information from the company and will update this page as soon as possible,” the regulator said.