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SS Scuba fined for selling more than 50 overseas trips without valid travel agent licence

Scuba-diving travel agent SS Scuba was convicted on Wednesday (Nov 28) for operating without a valid licence, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

SS Scuba fined for selling more than 50 overseas trips without valid travel agent licence

A screengrab of SS Scuba's website.

SINGAPORE: Scuba diving company SS Scuba was slapped with a fine on Wednesday (Nov 28) for selling and arranging more than 50 overseas trips without a valid travel agent licence, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

SS Scuba's travel agent licence had expired in March 2014, but the company continued to sell and arrange overseas trips between January 2015 and July 2016, STB said.

"STB received feedback from the industry in April 2016 that SS Scuba was possibly conducting travel agent activities without a valid travel agent licence," Ms Ong Ling Lee, director of travel agents and tourist guides at STB, told Channel NewsAsia.

Prosecution was initiated against SS Scuba in July 2018 upon conclusion of investigations, she added.

Court documents show that some customers went on trips to Nabucco island in lndonesia, while others went on liveaboard trips on the vessel Humboldt Explorer.

SS Scuba was convicted on 10 charges and fined S$14,000. Forty other charges were taken into consideration in sentencing.

"STB takes a serious view against unlicensed travel agents and is committed to uphold the reputation of Singapore’s tourism sector, and will not hesitate to take necessary action against those who contravened the legislation," said the tourism authority.

It urged the public to exercise due diligence when making travel arrangements and to refer to the latest list of licensed travel agents in Singapore.

According to its website, SS Scuba was set up in September 2010 after a merger between scuba group The Submersibles and diving centre Seaborne Scuba International. It offers dive courses and is also the distributor of various diving equipment.

The Facebook page of The Submersibles has several posts of upcoming dive trips. The posts ask interested parties to contact the company for "booking and enquiries". The posts also states that "all trips are organised by Adventours Travel Pte Ltd (TA - 03063)".

"SS Scuba has been told to stop carrying out the activities of selling or arranging trips without a valid travel agent licence or to work with a licensed travel agent for these activities. Where SS Scuba works with a licensed travel agent, SS Scuba can conduct the dive courses or lead dive expeditions within the trips sold or arranged by the licensed travel agent," Ms Ong told Channel NewsAsia.

"SS Scuba will be able to reapply for a travel agent licence. However, all applications are subject to the fulfilment of the licensing requirements and the approval of STB," she added.

Source: CNA/ec(hm)/aj

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