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Old 19th July 2010, 12:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Touts at Universal Studios Singapore?

Touts at Universal Studios Singapore?

By Benson Ang
The New Paper | Fri, Jul 16 2010

Tourist pays $318 for tickets worth $196.

THEY hang around outside Universal Studios Singapore keeping an eye out for disappointed visitors who find that tickets to the theme park are sold out.

Once they spot a target, these men, armed with a stack of the theme park's entrance tickets, close in.

They offer to sell you tickets - often at higher rates than normal. The assumption seems to be that if you want the tickets badly, you'll bite.

But are the men touting by selling the tickets in this manner?

Touting - the act of soliciting another person in public, for a trade or business, persistently or in an annoying manner - is illegal in Singapore.

A lawyer told The New Paper yesterday that the men's actions could be construed as touting.

Resorts World Singapore (RWS), which runs Universal Studios Singapore, said that the men had flouted their regulations by peddling the tickets just outside the park.

Bought at discount

Checks by The New Paper showed that the men could be working for local or Malaysian tour agencies that had bought the tickets from RWS at a discount.

The resort says it sells the tickets to the agencies to encourage them to bundle RWS into their tour packages.

Indonesian tourist Rini Nasution, 39, told The New Paper that she bought three Universal Studios Singapore tickets from one of these men on July 3, a Saturday.

She was here with her 35-year-old husband and her 10-year-old son for a three-day holiday specially to visit the theme park.

Ms Rini checked the RWS website on July 2 and found that tickets were sold out.

Still, the family headed to theme park the next day hoping they could get tickets at the door.

But they were disappointed. As they were walking away, a man approached them.

Ms Rini said the man, who wore a white T-shirt and shorts, appeared to be Chinese and spoke with a Singapore accent.

She recalled: "He asked if we wanted to go in and showed us a whole stack of tickets in his hand. "There were over 100 (tickets). We asked how he got them but he didn't answer. He just asked how many tickets we wanted."

A day's pass during the weekend costs $72 per adult and $52 per child.

For Ms Rini, three tickets would have normally cost $196. But the man demanded $318 for them, she said.

This reporter saw that one of the adult tickets was labelled "complimentary" and the other two had the name of a local travel agency printed on them and were valid for three months.

Daily tickets are valid only on the day of entry.

RWS does not sell tickets with a three-month validity period to the public.

Ms Rini bought the tickets at the man's asking price.

"We had to return to Indonesia the next day, and I was already (there). I also couldn't bear to disappoint my son," she said.

"I'm surprised touting occurs in Singapore because I thought the laws here are strict."

Her 52-year-old cousin, Singaporean Dohartua Masintan, said he was "disappointed" to find the peddlers outside the theme park.

Referring to the man's stack of tickets, Mr Masintan, a security guard added: "He might have bought the tickets in bulk, resulting in them being sold out quickly."

When contacted, a director of the travel agency whose name was printed on the tickets sold to Ms Rini, said all its Universal Studios tickets are sold through tour groups, not individually.

She said the company did not receive any complimentary tickets from the theme park, adding: "I don't know how she (Ms Rini) got the tickets."

Shin Min Daily News reported on Tuesday that weekday daily tickets costing $66 each were also being sold at $96 each by touts.

Last Saturday morning, this reporter staked out the entrance of Universal Studios Singapore. Tickets for that day were sold out.

About an hour later, I was approached by a man who claimed he was working for a travel agency in Malaysia. He wanted to sell me a ticket for $72 - similar to the door rate.

But like the tickets sold to Ms Rini, the ticket offered by the man had a three-month validity period.

The man said his tour agency had bought the USS tickets in bulk at lower prices.

He added that anyone could buy the tickets and need not sign up for tour packages to get them. He also guaranteed that the tickets would "work".

A check showed that six other tour agencies that had booths one level below the park entrance were also selling tickets to the theme park.

The tickets are also sold on auction website eBay and local online forum Hardware Zone.

NO TOUR NEEDED:A man claiming to be from a travel agency tries to sell tickets to our reporter.

RWS: We'll blacklist agents who flout rules

IT IS against RWS regulations to tout the theme park's tickets.

RWS spokesman Robin Goh told The New Paper in an e-mail reply: "Touting of tickets at the park entrance is strictly not allowed.

"We take a serious view of these contractual breaches and will not hesitate to blacklist agents who repeatedly commit them.

"At the same time, guests can help by informing us if they are approached by touts peddling tickets - at inflated prices or otherwise."

RWS added: "We have been informed by our guests about the touting practices and will be speaking with our partner travel agents directly on these issues."

Mr Goh said that as an industry practice, travel agents enjoy special rates on attractions and rooms at RWS. The special rates give them the flexibility to peg prices for their customers.

The special rates also give agents an incentive to bundle RWS into their tour packages to encourage more visitors.

Mr Goh acknowledged that travel agents need to cater to travellers who are not on a tour package, and they are free to sell tickets directly to their overseas guests.

But visitiors are encouraged to buy tickets either at theme park's ticketing booths or through the website "in advance to avoid disappointment", Mr Goh said.

"Such guests can also be assured that their tickets are bona fide," he added.

He said that visitors should check online if tickets are available before heading for the park.

Except for one day, Universal Studios' tickets were sold out every day in June. Tickets for all Saturdays of this month are sold out.

Were the men who were selling tickets outside the theme park touting?

Price not a factor

Lawyer Edmond Pereira told The New Paper that it was possible that they were - regardless of whether the tickets are sold at the usual or a higher rate.

Whether the act amounts to an offence, he added, depends on whether they are persistent or annoying the other party in a public place.

First-time offenders of touting can be fined between $1,000 and $5,000, or jailed up to six months, or both.

Subsequent offenders can be fined between $2,000 and $10,000, or jailed up to a year, or both.

The New Paper understands that no police report has been made about the people selling the attraction's tickets outside the park.

Ms Nasution and her family.


"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth". - 1 John 3:18
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