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Source: Konsortium website.

Konsortium travel agency’s license revoked, operation ceased due to financial crisis

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has announced on Thursday (22 February) that it has revoked Konsortium's travel agent licence, which had been in business for around 16 years, primarily operating coach services to and from Malaysia and southern Thailand.

It also stated that affected consumers who have purchased travel insurance prior to the closure should approach their insurance providers for assistance, while, consumers who are not covered by travel insurance can seek the help of the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) or the Small Claims Tribunal, where appropriate.

In a notice which was put up on its website, the agent stated that it has went into financial crisis and will cease operation on all services with immediate effect.

The agent also asked affected passengers with unfulfilled trips to make claims from travel insurance (if any) or refer to small claims tribunal to lodge the refund.

"We are deeply apologetic for the sudden closure and we seek your forgiveness," it added.

Ms Ong Ling Lee, STB’s director for travel agents and tourist guides, told Today Online that the board is looking into Konsortium's closure, adding, "(We) will not preclude taking further actions should there be reasonable grounds to suspect any contraventions of the relevant legislation."

The agency has also posted a notice on its shuttered office, saying that passengers who have bought bus tickets to Malaysia directly with the company may opt to book their seats with six other bus companies, subject to availability of seats, adding that they have until 1 March to do so and this only applies for outbound trips to Malaysia.

The six bus companies are members of the Express and Excursion Bus Association (EEBA), which are Grassland Express and Tours, Lapan Lapan Travel, Sri Maju Tours and Travel, The One Travel and Tours, Transtar Travel, and WTS Travel and Tours.

Today talked with a spokesperson from the association who said that the six companies came to the agreement on Thursday morning, after the executive committee held an emergency meeting upon learning about Konsortium’s fate.

The association has since received about 10 calls from affected customers enquiring about rebookings. While, Transtar Travel’s managing director Elson Yap, who is also the treasurer of the EEBA executive committee, told TODAY that about 20 Konsortium customers, most of whom were headed for Genting Highlands, have been rebooked on Transtar or Grassland Express coach services.

Mr Yap, as well as EEBA’s spokesperson, said the association was “not aware” of Konsortium’s financial issues.

The EEBA, which comprises 16 coach companies, also tried to get in touch with Konsortium’s management, but to no avail.

Other travel companies quickly jumped into the void left by Konsortium's sudden closure.

STB stated that a committee within the National Association of Travel Agents (NATAS) is rallying local transport operators to take over affected bookings if necessary.

Chan Brothers Travel statedd that it would aim to help affected customers.

It sent an email to media, saying, "While sudden business closure is not peculiar only to the travel industry, Chan Brothers Travel aims to help affected customers of Konsortium Express and Tours mitigate their losses and resume their travel plans."

The company also said that Chan Brothers Travel would be extending a "goodwill discount" of 10 percent off package tours booked from now until 4 March for affected customers.

It is the latest travel agency in the country to abruptly stop operations. Misa Travel, known for its affordable flights and hotel bookings, shut down without warning after 23 years in the business in January. While, Five Stars Tours, which offered long-distance coach trips, shut down without notice in January 2014.