No refunds for Sentosa sky lantern festival , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

No refunds for Sentosa sky lantern festival

At least 15 complaints have been made against the Singapore Sky Lantern Festival’s organiser after it refused to refund attendees for the lift-off that never happened.

This comes after hundreds of ticket holders made their way to Sentosa for the festival on Feb 21, only to learn upon arrival that there was no food, nor lanterns taking off that night – both of which had been promised.

Days later, a representative of event organiser Asian Couture and Boutique said on Facebook that unhappy attendees can either resell their tickets, which cost about $50 each, or attend a rescheduled release on another day.

Ms Shiermie Bautista, who founded the firm, said in a Facebook post on Feb 27 that ticket holders can attend the rescheduled event around the first week of April.

She added: “For those who can’t attend the next event, you can resell your tickets at (ticketing platform) TicketSwap.”

However, Asian Couture and Boutique’s director Steven Lau said on Feb 29 that a final decision on the event organiser’s next steps has yet to be made, and the firm is still collecting feedback from its customers.

There are also question marks over the rescheduled event, with the authorities telling The Straits Times the same day that there has been no information on its date or venue.

A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) spokesperson said it is still following up with the organiser on the details and the implementation of the fire safety guidelines, and has yet to give any clearance for the rescheduled event.

Previously, SCDF had not allowed the organiser to release sky lanterns, after a site inspection on the day of the festival showed that fire safety guidelines had not been adhered to.

The SCDF spokesperson said: “They did not provide proper tethers for the sky lanterns, nor fire extinguishers, or safety marshals.

“Therefore, in the interest of public and aviation safety, SCDF informed the event organiser that they should not use the sky lanterns for the event.

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore’s director for airspace policy Jean Yee said the authority was aware of the intent to reschedule the event, but as at Feb 28, no details on the date, venue and how the event will be executed have been shared.

More than 2,000 people had turned up for the festival on Feb 21, according to Mr Lau.

Some disappointed ticket holders, like first-year university student Tan Jun Wei, 23, simply want their money back.

The 23-year-old said he no longer trusts the organisers due to their unprofessional behaviour.

He said: “Even though they had our contact information, they didn’t inform us about the delay to the lift-off until we got there... They basically left us in the dark.”

Mr Tan had forked out more than $100 for two tickets, hoping the event would be a key part of a Valentine’s Day surprise for his girlfriend, who is a fan of the iconic scene from the Disney film Tangled, where the protagonists share a romantic moment while watching lanterns float up into the sky.

But all attendees got that night were grounded lanterns lit by LED lights, as the organiser was not permitted to fly lanterns with open flames.

Added Mr Tan: “I feel blindsided. I thought the event would be reliable because it was publicised on multiple news sites, and it was hosted on Sentosa.”

Checks by ST found that Ms Bautista’s phone number is linked to a cancelled sky lantern festival in Dubai that was meant to take place in 2023. The event, which appeared to have been postponed due to last-minute issues, had also hawked tickets for about $50 each.

In response to queries, a Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) spokeswoman told ST the statutory board was disappointed to hear that the event organiser had backtracked on the initial decision to provide refunds.

“As this is a third-party event, the event organiser makes the final decision to issue refunds or to reschedule,” she added.

She added that Asian Couture and Boutique has since contacted SDC to hold a similar event, and that SDC had in response reminded it of the need to apply for the necessary licences and permits, and fulfil requirements from the authorities.

Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) president Melvin Yong said the association is engaging with the event organiser to get a full refund for affected consumers, after receiving 15 complaints to date.

He said: “In general, consumers complained that the segment involving the release of sky lanterns was marketed as the highlight of the event and this was cancelled without prior notice.”

Mr Yong urged affected consumers to contact Case for help at its hotline on 6277-5100 or on its website.

  • Additional reporting by Ian Cheng and Aqil Hamzah
SingaporeFESTIVALS/CELEBRATIONSConsumers Association of Singaporesentosa