300 left in the lurch as travel agency S Travel goes bust

In a note pasted outside its office in Anson Road, S Travel said it has ceased operations "due to unforeseen reasons".
In a note pasted outside its office in Anson Road, S Travel said it has ceased operations "due to unforeseen reasons".ST PHOTO: VEENA VINOD

About 300 customers of a travel agency specialising in trips to South Korea have lost their holidays and their money after the company went bust.

S Travel, based at Fuji Xerox Towers in Anson Road, closed on Thursday - a day before 40 of those affected were due to fly off. The customers had paid between $1,500 and $1,800 each for their tour packages and another 40 due to go tomorrow also face being grounded.

S Travel, which was started in 2010, had its licence revoked by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) yesterday. "STB is looking into the matter and may consider taking further actions against S Travel and its directors, if necessary," the tourism board said in a statement.

The closure of S Travel follows the winding up of several agencies last year, including Asia-Euro Holidays and 707 Travel Services.

Mr Ken Lee, corporate secretary of S Travel, said the firm's finances were in order when they were checked in June last year, but the company had run into "financial difficulties" of late.

A bank loan due to come in late last month fell through and the company also owes its Korean partner, Jung Ho Travel, around $900,000 for hotel room bookings.

Mr Lee added that S Travel has about 10 staff, who have not been paid their March salaries. Mr Lee said the company's director, Mr Nam Sang Ryong, has left Singapore but declined to say where he has gone.

The Consumers Association of Singapore had received six complaints about S Travel as of 5pm yesterday. It advised those affected to contact their insurance providers if they have bought travel insurance or, if not, to file a claim with the Small Claims Tribunal.

Meanwhile, other travel agencies, including Air Sino-Euro Associates Travel, Citystate Travel and Dynasty Travel, have said they will help affected customers by offering them special rates on tour packages.

An S Travel customer, who wanted to be known only as Ms Siti, paid $6,069 for a trip to Seoul, Busan and Jeju with her mother and sister. "It was to be my first trip to Korea," said the 28-year-old nurse. "I'm very disappointed."

•Additional reporting by Veena Vinod

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline '300 left in the lurch as travel agency goes bust'. Subscribe