In an attempt to revive a legendary name in the Dutch travel industry, online travel agency Maeva has purchased the brand name and website of bankrupt Vacansoleil. Maeva is a subsidiary of the French group Pierre & Vacances, known as the parent company of Center Parcs, among others. The transaction, which only includes the brand name and the web domain, marks a modest but significant new phase in Vacansoleil's turbulent history.
The bankruptcy of Vacansoleil, once one of Europe's largest providers of camping holidays, left a shockwave through the tourism sector and left around 300 employees in a precarious situation. Of these employees, only eight to ten will initially be taken over by Maeva, according to curator Ben Arends. In a statement to the Dutch news agency ANP, Arends said that a complete restart of Vacansoleil was impossible. “The current outcome is the most meaningful thing we could achieve for Vacansoleil at this time,” he added.
The sale to Maeva raises questions about the future direction of the Vacansoleil brand. Given the involvement of Pierre & Vacances, a major player in the holiday park segment with brands such as Center Parcs, it seems likely that the brand will take a new direction, perhaps with a focus on more streamlined and high-quality holiday experiences.
The acquisition also provides a potential opportunity for Maeva to increase its presence in the Dutch market, leveraging Vacansoleil's well-known brand name. “We are very happy that we can maintain this and give the brand a new future. Not only in the Netherlands, but also in other European countries,” says Maeva director Nicolas Beaurain.
While the deal offers some hope for the revitalization of the brand, it will be little comfort to the hundreds of employees who have lost their jobs and the local economies that have benefited from holidaymakers traveling through Vacansoleil. The fact remains that the brand, once a pioneer in the industry, will now continue in a greatly reduced form.