Shuttered Misa Travel promises to 'progressively' respond to affected customers

A passerby walks past the Misa Travel office, which put up a notice on their shutters indicating they were no longer in business. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

SINGAPORE - A travel agency that shut abruptly on Wednesday (May 31) said it will be getting in touch with affected customers to help them either continue with their travel plans or make an insurance claim.

The 23-year-old Misa Travel shut a day after the Singapore Tourism Board revoked its travel agent licence for failing to "fulfil its obligations towards its customers".

Customers were left in a lurch. The Consumers Association of Singapore received at least 17 complaints against Misa Travel. In total, customers were out of pocket by $18,000 for packages that had not been fulfilled.

In a statement on Friday (June 2), Misa Travel said: "After 23 years in business, it's with regrets that our major shareholder has to make the business decision to close Misa Travel Pte Ltd. We are deeply sorry and understand the disappointment and frustrations of our customers who are affected by the closure."

It did not give a reason for the closure. Its major shareholder, according to business records, is private equity firm Zana Capital, which acquired the firm in 2014.

Misa Travel added that while it is doing its best to help affected customers, "most of the customers have not heard from us as we are still working with appropriate business partners and fellow travel agents to help make this transition for all customers as soon as possible".

It is working with DBS Bank and airline Cathay Pacific to "minimise disruption to the travel plans" of those who bought tickets to Hong Kong under a joint promotion with the bank and airline.

It is also working with travel agencies Dynasty Travel and New Shan Travel to provide alternative travel options for customers. More details on these will be provided later to individual customers, it added.

Misa Travel advised customers who need a refund for their air tickets to approach the respective airlines. Those who bought travel insurance should proceed with their claims.

"For customers who have yet to hear from us, we will be progressively responding to them in due course," it added. "We hereby like to sincerely apologise to the customers once again and seek their patience on this matter."

The National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas), which Misa Travel was a member of, said it "will work with the relevant authorities to render assistance to affected consumers wherever possible".

Natas' secretary-general Ram Samtani said Natas had not received any complaints against Misa Travel in recent months prior to its closure.

He added: "Natas wishes to emphasise that while this is an unfortunate circumstance, customers should not be afraid to take their business to other professional travel agents. Natas' members and the industry are willing to assist and offer their services where necessary."

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