SINGAPORE, 20 March 2018: The Singapore Tourism Board has launched a new public education campaign to promote greater awareness among Singaporeans on the need to protect themselves when booking and embarking on their holidays.
Ahead of the NATAS and Travel Revolution fair, that opens 23 March, the campaign introduces the message “Don’t Travel Blur, Travel Sure” a campaign that tells Singaporeans to follow three steps when planning travel.
Three steps to safe travel are highlighted.
Check if your travel agent is licensed and has the right licence by visiting the TRUST website
Read through the terms and conditions of your purchase. Clarify any doubts you may have with your travel providers before you travel.
“We want to encourage Singaporeans to be more vigilant with their travel purchases, even for trips that are short or perceived to be of ‘low-risk’,” said STB director, travel agents and tourist guides, Ong Ling Lee.
Always buy travel insurance
A recent study commissioned by STB found that among those who bought travel packages, almost everyone (97%, up from 93% in 2016) is aware of travel insurance. While the percentage of respondents who have purchased travel insurance in the past has grown, one in 10 still have never ever purchased a travel insurance policy, putting themselves at risk before and during their vacations.
The survey, conducted from September to October 2017, aimed to assess the perception and behaviours of 600 Singaporeans who had purchased travel packages from a travel agent in the past year.
While there were some improvements in attitude towards buying travel insurance, short duration of trips and perceived ‘low-risk’ destinations remain the most cited reasons for not buying travel insurance, at 38% and 28% respectively.
The survey also found a slight increase in awareness of the travel agent insolvency clause in travel insurance policies. This is coupled with an improvement in the percentage of respondents who looked out for the travel agent insolvency clause when purchasing travel insurance, but the number remains low at only one in four.
Additionally, the perceived low risk of a travel agent closing down was the main barrier to purchasing travel insurance with an insolvency clause.
AIG Insurance Asia-Pacific senior vice president head of personal Insurance Southeast Asia, Gany Subramaniam, echoed a similar trend of increased awareness on the importance of travel insurance.
“Last year, we saw a high single digit year-on-year growth on the take up for travel insurance. Consumers are increasingly becoming more aware of unforeseen events happening around the world such as natural disasters. Hence, they see greater need for travel insurance so as to enjoy their holidays worry free.
“In the same period, we also noted that three in four claims made were for medical expenses for policyholders travelling to neighbouring countries like Malaysia. Likewise, some might perceive Australia as a low-risk destination, but our data shows that one in two claims made were primarily medical claims for policyholders travelling to Australia. Clearly, no matter where or how far consumers are travelling to, they are susceptible to destination risks. We encourage travellers to take the necessary precautions such as buying travel insurance to protect themselves from unforeseen circumstances.”
Check if your travel agent is licensed
Results also showed that there are still one in four respondents putting themselves at risk by not checking if their travel agent is licensed.
Apart from their illegal status, there are real safety risks involved in using the services of
unlicensed travel agents. They may not follow industry standards and engage with partners that could endanger your safety.
With the latest amendments to the Travel Agents Act and Regulations, all travel agents are required to indicate licence information in their official documents such as invoices and receipts.
Travel agents are also required to provide consumers with a receipt and a separate itemised list of components, when receiving payment or a deposit amounting to SGD 500 or more per person.
STB urges consumers to use this information and check their licence against the TRUST website to safeguard themselves against travel mishaps.
Read through the terms and conditions (T&Cs).
The survey found that less than half of the respondents are reading and clarifying terms and conditions. This is even more evident among older travellers.
The following are some common T&Cs that consumers should pay attention to:
Quality of packages – to avoid disappointment, be clear on what is offered to you, such as quality of hotel and coach services;
Refund/Cancellation policies – the amount of compensation and the time taken for the compensation to be paid may vary for different travel agencies;
What your trip itineraries entail – for example, what type of shopping stops you will be making, whether the fees for meals and admission to attractions are included, or the amount of time that will be spent travelling from one attraction to another.
 Travel Related Users’ System (TRUST) provides up-to-date information on all licensed travel agents in Singapore, including contact details such as office addresses, office telephones and email addresses.