The lure of plane tickets to Australia for just £10 proved irresistible for globetrotters who camped outside a Birmingham travel shop for three days.
By the time STA Travel opened the doors of its Corporation Street branch at 8am on Wednesday, about 40 eager travellers had formed a queue ready to snap up the bargain. The incredible scenes were repeated at seven other outlets across the country as the offer sparked a huge clamour by young people wanting to escape the British weather and take advantage of the buoyant job market Down Under.
Among the lucky ones in Birmingham were 25-year-old Daniel Farr from Stafford.
“I’m over the moon and so relieved to have got my ticket,” said the personal trainer as he proudly clutched his booking confirmation for a flight in November and a brochure.
“We were 11 and 12 in the queue after getting here on Monday night so we weren’t guaranteed to get the deal.
“Some people have been in tents since Sunday because it’s such a good deal.
“I’m planning to go to Sydney and travel around, doing a bit of work to pay my way.”
STA Travel managers said they discouraged the temporary camps on safety grounds but said they had been pleased at the level of interest for the 150 tickets.
They handed out £50 off vouchers to disappointed queuing customers and were giving away guidebooks to help them plan trips.
Further back in the line was 22-year-old Sigourny Stuart from Dudley, who said she still intended to travel.
“We’ve been here for 24 hours but it’s looking like it won’t be enough to get the cheap deal,” she said. “There’s been a great atmosphere and everybody has made friends. I think I’m going to go anyway because I’ve already sorted my visa out.”
Solar heating engineer Daniel Blades, aged 24, from Loughborough, said: “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity so it’s not surprising that so many people are here.
“I’m hoping to be entered into a draw for the few remaining tickets.
“I want to go out and work because there’s some great opportunities and the lifestyle really appeals to me.”
STA hit on the initiative to mark its 30th birthday and to repeat the £10 assisted-package scheme that saw thousands of Britons emigrate to Australia in the immediate post-war years.
The offer was open to people with a valid Australian working holiday visa.
Product manager Ian Swain said: “It’s a great opportunity for someone who has come out of university and can’t find a job to get away for a year or so and get some life experience.”