One of the leading online shopping platforms, Streetdeal Singapore Pte. Ltd. has been fined a total of SGD25,000 on Wednesday for carrying on the business of a travel agent without a licence and assisting another unlicensed travel agent on its business, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said.
According to a statement released by STB, Streetdeal Singapore was convicted of 16 charges under the Travel Agents Act and Regulations (Chapter 334) (TA Act) and another 31 charges under the same Act were also taken into consideration.
The board said the online portal obtained a valid licence from October 4, 2011 to December 31, 2012 and after its expiration date, the company had decided not to renew its travel agent licence. The company was found to have conducted the business of a travel agent during the board’s regular checks in between March and August last year.
Additionally, during the period of March 23 2012 and May 25 2012, when Streetdeal was still a licensee under the TA Act, they were also found to have advertised and sold travel packages offered by AbsolutInspira, an unlicensed travel agent.
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Streetdeal is an international online shopping platform that offers daily deals of local services and products. The company, which has offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines, serves as a medium to connect local businesses and potential new customers.
Under Section 6 of the TA Act, any person found guilty of carrying on the business of a travel agent without a valid travel agent licence faces a maximum fine of $10,000 or imprisonment of a term not exceeding two years or both. Under Section 29 of the TA Regulations, any person who contravenes any provision of the Regulations, including abetting an unlicensed travel agent, shall be liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.
TA Act and requirements apply to all Singapore-based online deal portals which advertise, collect and hold money for travel packages on behalf of travel agents.
“This is because such online platforms, working as an intermediary, pose the same potential risk to consumers as other travel agents based in Singapore. Further, licensees are not to abet any person who is not a licensed travel agent to carry on the business of a travel agent,” STB said in the statement.
Looks like with this incident, STB will be much stricter with other travel agents to prevent similar incidences from occuring again. The board has announced that in order to protect consumers and safeguard the reputation of the country’s tourism sector, STB is taking errant travel agents seriously and will not hesitate to take actions against them.
So before you book your next vacation through an agent, be sure to take a closer look at their paperwork! To check if your travel agent is properly licensed, you can check the latest list of licensed travel agents in Singapore on the Travel Related Users’ System (TRUST) website.