Consumer Protection BC has suspended the licence of Sinorama Travel Vancouver Inc. and frozen their bank accounts, due to concerns the Richmond-based business does not have enough working capital to continue operating as a travel agency.
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Consumer Protection BC has been monitoring the decisions of Quebec’s Office de la protection du consommateur (OPC), Quebec’s travel regulator, related to the licence of Sinorama Vacances Inc., a travel wholesaler in that province. On Aug. 7, the OPC issued a decision that the business would no longer be licensed in Quebec. The following day (Aug. 8), Sinorama Holidays’ Markham, Ontario location voluntarily terminated its Ontario Travel Industry Act registration.
“Last week, we performed our own inspection into Richmond’s Sinorama Travel and what we found concerned us,” said Tatiana Chabeaux-Smith, spokesperson for the province’s travel agency regulator. “We don’t believe that the travel agency has enough funds to continue to operate which puts the traveling public at risk.”
While Richmond’s Sinorama Travel is a separate legal entity from Quebec’s Sinorama Vacances Inc., they are affiliated by their ownership structure. The watchdog is still assessing the potential impact on travellers and will provide new information as it becomes available.
Anyone who has made travel arrangements through the Sinorama Travel location in Richmond are advised to confirm with their hotel, airline and any other provider that their travel has been booked and paid for. For now, anyone who is unsure on how to proceed should start by directly contacting Sinorama Travel Vancouver.
If customers of Sinorama determine their travel has not been booked or paid for, they are encouraged to:
- (If purchased by credit card): call or write the credit card company to determine if the charges can be reversed; and/or:
- (If purchased separate travel insurance): call the insurance provider to see if it will cover the costs of the undelivered services.
“It’s our understanding that the majority of the travel purchased are trips to China,” said Chabeaux-Smith. “Travellers who booked through Sinorama Travel and didn’t get the services they paid for may have access to BC’s Travel Assurance Fund, which is a fund of last resort.”
Claims to the Travel Assurance Fund must be submitted within six months from the date of loss.
For licensed BC travel agents
Agents who have bought or arranged for the supply of travel services through the Quebec Sinorama wholesaler for their clients are advised to confirm bookings and/or advise their clients. Agents may also want to contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc., the administrator in Quebec. Travel agents and wholesalers are also reminded not to do business with Sinorama Travel Vancouver Inc, or any travel agency or wholesaler that is suspended, Consumer Protection BC said.