Zuji officially shut down on January 11 with HK$250,000 (US$32,000) owed to customers awaiting refunds, confirming rumours of trouble brewing at the online travel pioneer after news of suspension of airline ticket sales surfaced last month.
Ong Ling Lee, director, travel agents and tourist guides, Singapore Tourism Board, confirmed to TTG Asia that Zuji Travel did not renew its travel agent licence, which lapsed on December 31, 2018.
IATA said in a statement: “Zuji’s participation in the IATA Billing and Settlement Plan in Singapore and Hong Kong was terminated earlier this month as Zuji was not able to meet conditions for reinstatement.”
In Hong Kong, a spokesperson from the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau confirmed to the South China Morning Post that Zuji’s licence has expired last Wednesday and that the company could not continue to operate a travel agent business although it is obligated to handle all booked services.
Zuji Hong Kong had earlier suggested that its website closure in Singapore and Hong Kong was temporary, and claimed on its social media that passengers who have made ticket purchases with them should not be affected.
As recently as last Friday, Zuji Hong Kong maintained on Facebook that it was “experiencing technical difficulties on processing refund”.
The OTA reportedly gave its assurance to the Travel Agents Registry, the government-run licensing body in Hong Kong, that it will honour the air ticket and hotel reservations made through its website.