SINGAPORE - A travel agency has been suspended from the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers (SRV) scheme for allegedly abusing it.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is also threatening to yank the agency's licence.
Continental Travel Singapore is alleged to have engaged in cashback arrangements by partially refunding, in cash, the value of the SRV bookings made by some members of the public.
The police arrested three people last month for their suspected involvement in the scheme.
STB said on Friday (Oct 15) that Continental Travel Singapore will not be able to accept new bookings involving the SRV, but existing SRV bookings that are legitimate will not be affected.
Continental Travel Singapore has 14 days to appeal against the notice of intent to suspend its travel agency licence.
STB added that Continental Travel Singapore will still be required to carry out all existing obligations to its consumers and industry partners, including ensuring that all existing bookings, whether or not they involve the use of SRVs, are not affected during the notice period and any subsequent suspension period.
The agency is also required to inform all customers of the notice of intent to suspend its travel agency licence.
Travel booking platform Klook has taken down the agency's listing and the public will no longer be able to book its tours on the platform.
When contacted for comment, Mr Patrick Khong, owner and director of Continental Travel Singapore, said: "I don't know what to say except that I'm very sad and I regret doing this."
He said his business has not brought in any income for more than 20 months due to the pandemic, which brought international tourism to a halt.
"We were so desperate for our business to survive that we did anything we could think of.
"We were glad to have SRV during this period and thought it would help us pull through this difficult time. But it ended up being our undoing because of our own actions.
"We don't know what to do now, how to fulfil backlog bookings or tell our customers we've been suspended."
STB said SRVs are meant for personal use only, and reselling or exchanging the SRVs for cash is not allowed.
The board added that it conducts regular checks to ensure SRVs are used for their intended purposes and will take action against businesses or individuals that abuse the SRV scheme.
SRV bookings can be made only through five authorised partners' platforms: Changi Recommends, GlobalTix, Klook, Traveloka and Trip.com