Popular UK Liveaboard Operator Ceased Trading on 15 November
Blue O Two, one of the UK's best known and most highly regarded liveaboard operators, has been put into administration, leaving many customers uncertain about the future of the holidays they have booked.
Blue O Two, best known for its Red Sea and Maldives liveaboards, but which also ran a selection of itineraries around the world with partner companies such as Master Liveaboards, announced on 15 November that it has been put into administration. The decision has been made due to the unrelenting financial pressure placed on tour operators during the Covid 19 pandemic. The Blue O Two brand, however, will continue to trade under the new ownership of Scuba Tours Worldwide Limited.
In a statement on the Blue O Two website, owners Jason Strickland and Nathan Tyler place the blame squarely on the UK government's strict and constantly changing travel restrictions:
Covid-19 presented us with the greatest challenge in 18 years of trading. The UK has had the most stringent of travel restrictions in place. They have been consistently changing, hard to understand, and made it almost impossible to deliver what you all love doing the most – diving. With limited tailored support for our sector, livelihoods and families were affected across the entire travel industry. The battles we have fought personally coping with the last 20 months of disruption have given us many sleepless nights.
During this period of huge uncertainty, decision-making has been very difficult. In fact, we wished on many occasions we had a crystal ball. Team members have got used to decisions one day having to be reversed overnight – depending on global government guidance and updates, in particular the UK travel restrictions.
Despite trying to accommodate as many changes in rules and regulations as possible, the team says that in the end, the financial burdens placed upon the company gave it no further option:
Although we were granted a new license to provide packages including flights, the CAA, with consumers best interests in mind, imposed conditions on Blue 02 Limited’s ATOL license. This, as well as refunding many millions of ￡s, has made it difficult for the Directors to see a way forward for Blue 02 Ltd which protects the interests of our customers in the current COVID climate.
Given the financial damage caused by the pandemic, and despite our relentless best efforts to save Blue 02 Ltd, unfortunately, and with regret, the decision was made to cease trading on 15th November 2021.
Needless to say, the loss of such a popular operator is a devastating blow to the dive community. The announcement also leaves hundreds of divers uncertain about the future of their holiday bookings, although the company is working hard to find solutions to as many bookings as possible. Blue O Two has announced that:
- Customers already on their holidays should not be affected and should continue as normal
- Some live bookings haven’t been affected and will proceed as planned
- Other live bookings won’t be able to go ahead as planned and will need to be re-booked
The company has announced in a Facebook post that it has taken the decision to turn off its telephone helplines to allow the team time to sort through the bookings that are currently active:
Our customers are the most important aspect of our business. For this reason, we’ve taken the decision to turn off the phones for the next few days. This will give our staff time to work their way through the list of divers affected by this news.
We are doing our very best to ensure everyone gets contacted as soon as possible. We are tackling this chronologically by departure date.