Tokyo-based discount travel agency Tellmeclub has filed for bankruptcy with liabilities of around 15 billion yen (US$134.9 million), affecting as many as 90,000 corporate and leisure travellers.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Tellmeclub president Chikako Yamada said customers should not go ahead with their trips as they were not guaranteed accommodation at their destination.
She added that applications for packages would be cancelled but the company was not able to refund payments already made. An estimated 36,000 tour contracts for around 90,000 individuals are affected, worth some 9.9 billion yen, local media reported.
A spokesperson for the Japan Association of Travel Agents told TTG Asia: "Those customers are protected because Tellmeclub was our member and subscribed to our insurance.”
"It is a complicated situation – and also a legal issue now – but we are doing everything we can to help customers and also its partner companies and operators."
The failure of Tellmeclub is "much more complicated than simply a question of intense competition," the official said, suggesting that the "strategic decisions and policies" that the company took to grow rapidly played a part in its downfall.
"We issue guidelines to member companies, but we cannot guarantee that a situation like this will not happen again," the official said. "We are however looking at the causes and will do what we can to protect customers and other companies in future."