Misa Travel's office, with its shutters drawn on May 31, 2017. Photo credit: Kamini Devadass
SINGAPORE: Local company Misa Travel had its travel agent licence revoked on Wednesday (May 31), the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) confirmed in a media advisory on the same evening.
"Misa Travel has been served a notice of revocation as it has ceased to carry on the business of a travel agent and is unable to fulfil its obligations towards its customers," STB said.
The company had shuttered its office earlier on Wednesday, and posted a notice saying that the company had closed and all its services were "ceased with immediate effect".
STB added that affected customers should contact Misa Travel regarding the status of their booking or to seek a refund. "In the event that Misa Travel cannot be reached or fails to provide the relevant service delivery or refund, consumers with applicable travel insurance should approach their insurance providers for assistance," STB said.
Consumers who are not covered by travel insurance can approach the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) or the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT), where appropriate, it added.
"We take this opportunity to remind consumers to take precautionary measures such as purchasing travel insurance upon payment of the travel plans, and to pay by instalments instead of making full payment.
"The travel insurance should provide coverage for unforeseen events such as when a travel agent becomes insolvent," STB said.
STB said the latest list of licensed travel agents in Singapore is available at the Travel Related Users’ System (TRUST) website. It added that travel agents can email firstname.lastname@example.org for related licensing queries.
AT LEAST 10 COMPLAINTS RECEIVED SINCE CLOSURE: CASE
CASE executive director Loy York Jiun told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday that as of 11am that day, the consumer watchdog had counselled at least 10 customers who complained about Misa Travel's closure. These customers reported paying about S$12,000 in total for tour packages, he added.
Mr Loy advised affected consumers to first attempt to contact the travel agency about the status of their tour package, as well as their insurance companies to find out the extent of their coverage.
Those who paid for the tour packages with credit cards can also consider contacting their card issuing banks to ask for refunds through chargebacks, Mr Loy said.
"This incident once again highlights the urgent need for protection of consumers’ pre-payments and we hope that the authorities can do more to protect consumers’ interests," he added.
CASE offered the following tips to consumers selecting a travel agency:
- Check that the travel agency is licensed by STB.
- Consider engaging a CaseTrust-NATAS accredited travel agency. While this does not guarantee zero complaints, choosing an accredited agency reduces the chances of problems and consumers can be assured that there are proper dispute resolution measures in place.
- Consider buying travel insurance that covers business insolvency to protect yourself in the event that the agent ceases operations unexpectedly.