Holiday firms Super Break and Late Rooms have gone into administration, despite urging customers to purchase trips and book hotel rooms just three hours beforehand.
The move affects 20,000 bookings made through Super Break, according to administrators KPMG, with 400 people already on holiday. Late Rooms had around 23,000 bookings.
The number of individual holidaymakers caught up in the collapse is believed to much higher – the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) believes 53,000 are affected by Super Break alone, with no estimates for Late Rooms.
The firms’ parent company, Malvern Group, stopped trading on August 1 after running into financial trouble and failing to find a buyer.
Super Break and Late Rooms were still encouraging customers to buy holidays and accommodation hours before the announcement through Twitter and their own websites.