Domestic specialist Alfa Leisureplex Group has shut down its operations until the end of April and secured £1.9 million overdraft extension to cover costs.

Alfa, which has a fleet of 48 coaches and operates 22 seaside hotels in the UK, said customers – most of whom are over the age of 60 – gave them a standing ovation in some hotels when it made the announcement to temporarily cease operations.

Customers have been offered the option of either postponing their trip to a later date, getting a credit note valid until the end of 2022 or a full refund.

Lancashire-based Alfa, which takes 115,000 customers on holiday per year, has kept on a reservations team and furloughed the ‘majority’ of staff.

Lloyds Banking Group agreed a £1.9 million overdraft extension for the £43 million turnover business, which is 75% owned by its 710 employees, within 48 hours of the government advising against all non-essential travel on March 16.

Managing director Emma Russell said: “As a responsible employee-owned business, we made the decision to close and bring our customers home straight away.

“We felt it was the right thing to do to get everyone home as soon as possible so they could stay safe, stock up on essential provisions and get ready for the social distancing measures that were coming into place.

“When we made the announcement, we got standing ovations in some of the hotels and we’ve been overwhelmed with messages of support from customers, who are really appreciative of what we’ve done.

“The support we’ve had from Lloyds gives us the security that we know we can continue to refund customers and we haven’t had to make any rash decisions about our employees’ future.

“We’re also using this time to plan our 2021 holiday programme and look at how we can improve the customer experience.

“We were a financially strong business before coronavirus and we fully intend to come back from this even stronger.”