Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
VANCOUVER — Consumer Protection B.C. is reminding agents that it has suspended the license of Richmond, B.C.-based Sinorama Travel Vancouver Inc., and frozen the company’s bank accounts due to concerns the business does not have enough money to continue operating as a travel agency.
“We are concerned that Sinorama customers won’t get the travel they paid for,” says Tatiana Chabeaux-Smith, spokesperson for the travel industry regulator. “We are still assessing the situation and the possible impact on travellers. We urge travellers to start by confirming that their travel plans are actually booked and paid for.”
Consumer Protection BC says it recommends travellers do this by trying to directly contact all suppliers of travel services, including flights, bus trips, tour packages, and any travel plans made for them by Sinorama.
If travellers are unable to confirm their bookings, the next step is to contact their credit card and/or travel insurance provider to ask about their options.
“We know that people have questions,” says Chabeaux-Smith. “We are doing everything we can to understand the scope of this situation. We have information on our website and we will continue to update it with new details.”
Consumer Protection B.C. has a “Booked with Sinorama Travel Vancouver?” page on its website with frequent updates.
Quebec’s travel regulator, the Office de la protection de la consommateur (OPC), notified the Montreal-based operations of Sinorama last week that its license would not be renewed in that province, citing insufficient funds. Sinorama was founded in Quebec in 2005.
Soon alarm bells were going off at Consumer Protection B.C. too. It suspended Sinorama Travel Vancouver Inc.’s licence and froze the company’s bank accounts.
On Aug. 8 TICO issued a closure advisory for Markham-based Sinorama Holidays Inc. as the company voluntarily terminated its Ontario registration.
As reported on Travelweek.ca the hit to Ontario’s Travel Compensation Fund from the Sinorama Holidays Inc. closure could exceed the $5 million legislated maximum, says TICO’s VP Operations, Dorian Werda.
TICO’s closure advisory for Markham’s Sinorama Holidays Inc., also with frequent updates, is at https://www.tico.ca/news/advisory/290-aug-7-18-important-information-about-sinorama-for-consumers.html.