At least 3000 people affected by closure of Five Stars Tours

Customers who bought bus tickets and tour packages from Five Stars Tours are scrambling to make alternative plans, after the tour agency abruptly shuttered its offices on Wednesday afternoon.

At least 3,000 passengers' Chinese New Year plans have been affected, with some Malaysian passengers, who had booked tickets in advance, fearing they would be stuck in Singapore without a coach home in time for the new year.

Chinese New Year is typically one of the busiest seasons for express bus service operators, reports The Straits Times.

The National Association of Travel Agents (Natas) is working with insurance company AIG Asia Pacific and seven travel agencies to help customers affected by the sudden closure of Five Stars Tours.

Other travel agencies that have stepped forward to help affected customers are Dynasty Travel, Air Sino-Euro Associates Travel, Chan Brothers Travel, CTC Travel, Hong Thai Travel, New Shan Travel, and Super Travel.

They are offering a mixture of rebates, vouchers, and discounts. Dynasty Travel, for example, is offering 120 chartered coach seats for free to customers travelling to Kuala Lumpur on Jan 29 and returning on Feb 3.

Seats are available on a first come, first served basis, and all bookings must be made before Jan 17. AIG Asia Pacific Insurance will be offering a 20 per cent discount on its Travel Guard policies for affected customers booking a new trip with Natas members.

The Express Bus Agencies Association has reached out to affected passengers, where more buses are being catered and bus tickets are available at a discounted rate.

Five Stars Tours has up till Jan 31 to provide reasons to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on why their travel agent licence should not be revoked.

STB announced in a statement that "a Notice of Revocation has been served to Five Stars Tours, in accordance with the Travel Agents Act".

STB said it is monitoring the situation closely and working with relevant parties to assist affected consumers, reports AsiaOne.

STB advised consumers who have purchased travel insurance prior to the closure to approach their insurance providers for assistance.

Those who are not covered by travel insurance can seek help from the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) or the Small Claims Tribunal where appropriate.

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