Five Star Tours... Gone

Having your accommodation, food and transport handled for you can be a very stress free event, or is it? I can’t say that I particularly like (local) tour agencies, nor can I say that I like them since I have never really used them (yet). I won't rule out the possibility that I might use them in the future, but for the time being that is very unlikely: with the raise and popularity of booking trips online and doing/planning your trips yourself (most of the time), the internet can be either a bane or boon for tour agencies.

That said, the travel packages that most (if not all) tour agencies offer can be very tempting. Since they can offer prices more affordable (usually and minus the fine print of additional charges and fees), handle all aspects of your travel from food, accommodation to transport, and offer the ability to visit more places in a shorter period of time, it is tempting. But all that comes at a price - the lack of customization and freedom to do what you want, when you want (most of the time anyways), and most of all some planned tours are just too commercial (obviously out to get your money at all costs), with the main mandatory stops being at 'touristy' shops that have special tie-ups with the tour agencies that ultimately offer little value (most of the time).

So would it come a surprise that local tour agency, Five Star Tours, suddenly closed down leaving many customers in the lurch? According to one report, packages (of up to S$2,000 and more) were still being sold and promoted despite the (possible?) knowledge that the company was in dire straits and on the verge of closure.

Promotions that were still on the website while it was (being) closed at the time

While affected customers are scurrying to get their refunds and compensation (which they will hopefully get), it is heartening to know that NATAS is working together with its partners to try to make it a less traumatizing experience for the affected customers. Meanwhile, the STB (Singapore Tourism Board) has served Five Star Tours with a revocation notice for its license. But more action should be taken against the owners of Five Stars, especially when/if they were still selling 'invalid' packages and having promotions right up till the last minute when its door were closed. The fact that the branches were systematically suddenly closed down, and notices 'silenty' put up to inform the affected customers of the sudden closure, telling them to make their claims through the travel insurance or small claims, could indicate that it was already something that the company knew would be an outcome.

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When travel collides with a byte, a unit of information made up of bits, TravelBytez is formed: snippets of ramblings on travel, food, shopping, living and anything else that comes to mind.


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