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Travelscope sold to former managers

The assets of failed operator Travelscope have been sold to two of its former managers and 13 ex-staff have launched a separate business to sell its chartered cruise ship Van Gogh in the UK.


Travelscope has been ­looking for a buyer since its collapse on December 21, when it had around 45,000 passengers booked to travel.


Administrators Menzies Corporate Restructuring have announced an asset sale of the business to Phoenix Holidays, set up by former managers Darren Parris and Anu Desai.


Bristol-based Phoenix Holidays has re-employed 12 Travelscope staff and plans to take on 22 in total.


It specialises in coach holidays, river cruises and escorted flight holidays and is applying for ATOL and ABTA licences. It cannot offer flight holidays currently.


Former Travelscope head of agency sales and operations Parris, said former customers were converting their bookings to Phoenix.


“We are doing our utmost to save as many bookings as possible and conversions are running at 85%-90%. We have got tours leaving this weekend,” he said.


Travelscope employed 270 staff, many of which were helping at Phoenix out of their own goodwill, he added. “A lot of staff worked for Travelscope for over a decade and are keen for people to get their holidays. It’s an emotional time.”


Meanwhile, 13 former Travelscope staff, including ex-financial director Mark Horwood, have launched Van Gogh Cruise Line to continue selling and operating cruise ship Van Gogh to the UK market.


The ship was previously chartered by Travelscope. Its Dutch-based owners Club Cruise have given financial backing to the operator, based in Cheltenham with Horwood as managing director.


Club Cruise and ABTA stepped in to save a New Year round-the-world cruise immediately after Travelscope’s collapse.


Van Gogh Cruise Line ­senior sales executive Sarah Brooks said: “We are literally starting from scratch and contacting agents and passengers to let them know they can now take bookings for 2008 and 2009.”

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