Singapore to revamp travel agency regulations

After several high-profile closures, travel agents may be required to inform their clients about travel insurance options

Singapore to revamp travel agency regulations

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

Following closures of several well-known travel agencies across Singapore, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Singapore Travel Board (STB) have proposed several changes to the rules governing said businesses.

Among the changes being eyed is making it mandatory for travel agents to inform their clients about travel insurance options and maintain a record for this. This is an expansion of a regulation introduced in 2015, when travel firms were required to remind travellers to buy insurance cover to protect them from unforeseen circumstances like agent insolvency.

Travel agents will no longer be allowed to submit a banker’s guarantee to replace the SGD100,000 net worth requirement to be a licensed agency. The MTI said that the banker’s guarantee is not sufficient proof that the travel agency is financially sustainable, and is mostly ineffective in case the agency goes under.

The plan also calls for the Singapore Tourism Board to be given more investigative powers, such as the collecting of photographic, audio, and video evidence of wrongdoings in the travel industry.

The proposed amendments were formulated after 17 discussion sessions with various stakeholders of the travel industry, including travel agencies, the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS), and the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE).

“The majority of our travel agents are professional and conduct their businesses responsibly,” Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann was quoted as saying by the Straits Times.

“But as the travel industry transforms and consumer expectations evolve, we need to update the regulatory framework to safeguard the interests of consumers and also ensure that the business environment allows travel agents to innovate and grow.”

A public consultation period about the amendments will be held from June 21 to July 12.

Related stories:
Singaporeans becoming more discerning about travel insurance
Misa Travel issues statement regarding closure
Travel agency’s closure highlights importance of insurance

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