The changes, which will be implemented in phases from January, will beef up consumer protection while relaxing some requirements to foster innovation in the industry.
The public consultation will also address scenarios that would require a copy of an NRIC - which contains sensitive data such as name, photograph, thumbprint and home address. Organisations will have up to 12 months from the release of the new advisory on NRIC use, expected to be in mid-2018, to change their business practice. Lawyer Gilbert Leong, senior partner at Dentons Rodyk & Davidson, said care must also be taken to protect the use of one's cellphone number. Irene Tham Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Errant travel agencies that close down, leaving customers in the lurch, will find it harder to reopen under a different name, after changes to the laws governing the travel industry.
"The mobile number is increasingly becoming a part of one's digital identity; one-time passwords are sent and payments can be made to one's mobile phone," he said. • Emergencies where medical workers need to ascertain the blood type or allergies of a patient. In deciding whether to issue licences to travel agencies, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will consider factors such as whether company directors and other individuals involved with the company "are suitable to hold the licence", said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann yesterday.
Negotiations are also ongoing to provide an effective, efficient and transparent process for dispute settlement.
"While there is steady progress in the negotiations, finding a landing zone that is acceptable and agreeable to all RCEP parties on numerous issues remains a gradual and complex process.
There will also be harsher penalties for offences; for instance, the maximum fine for unlicensed travel agent activities has been raised from ,000 to ,000.
Travel agents that have had their licences suspended or revoked will also be required to disclose this to customers.
She added: "We hope that this exemption will encourage more entities to offer consumers innovative and experiential tours, and in turn add to the vibrancy of our tourism landscape." Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) and Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC), who were among four MPs who spoke in support of the Bill, asked if the Government would consider requiring travel agencies to post a performance bond, or finance a fund, which could be used to reimburse consumers in the event of closure.
Responding, Ms Sim said only a minority of the 1,200 licensed travel agents here are black sheep, and such measures would increase business costs across the board.
The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) among the 10 Asean countries as well as six partners - China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Since the launch of the negotiations in November 2012, there have been 20 formal negotiating rounds and eight RCEP ministerial meetings, Dr Koh noted.
Other changes are aimed at making it easier for travel companies to conduct business.