STB: From July 15, buy travel insurance that covers travel agent insolvency to protect your holiday

A woman looks through a tour brochure at a travel fair in Singapore. The Singapore Tourism Board announced a new licensing condition on Friday so that - from July 15 - all licensed travel agents will have to seek the decision of outbound leisure cust
A woman looks through a tour brochure at a travel fair in Singapore. The Singapore Tourism Board announced a new licensing condition on Friday so that - from July 15 - all licensed travel agents will have to seek the decision of outbound leisure customers over the buying of travel insurance that covers travel agent insolvency. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM  

SINGAPORE - Those going on holidays are urged to consider buying travel insurance that also covers travel agent insolvency.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) announced a new licensing condition on Friday so that - from July 15 - all licensed travel agents will have to seek the decision of outbound leisure customers over the buying of travel insurance that covers travel agent insolvency.

In its statement, the STB said the new condition aims to educate consumers on measures they can take to protect their interests when they book their holidays.

The condition will apply on a per person basis when a consumer pays a deposit or makes a payment of $500 or more, or purchases a travel package costing $1,000 or more.

Travel agents are required to record their customers' decision on whether to purchase travel insurance.

Mr Yap Chin Siang, assistant chief executive of STB, said: "With the implementation of the new licensing condition, consumers will now be better informed on steps that they can take to protect themselves against unforeseen circumstances including travel agent insolvency.

"STB will be assisting our industry stakeholders on the specifics of how the licensing condition may be implemented, and will layer on with continued consumer education efforts."

The STB added it had also considered suggestions from the Consumer Association of Singapore (Case), such as having travel agents buy business insurance against any unforeseen business exigencies.

The STB said it is studying - together with industry stakeholders - potential cost increments and duplication of coverage with existing policies that consumers may own.

This comes after a number of travel agents have pulled their shutters down, leaving their customers stranded.

Last month, the STB revoked the licence of Asia-Euro Holidays in Chinatown Point following its sudden closure.

Case said it received 35 complaints against the travel agent when news broke. The claims added up to more than $92,000, and mainly involve the agency's failure to honour pre-paid travel packages.

kchitra@sph.com.sg