DOT warns public of bogus travel agencies

The Department of Tourism (DOT) warns the public of fake tour operators offering cheap tour packages to take advantage of the incoming summer season.

Undersecretary for Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation (TRCRG) Alma Rita Jimenez stressed the importance of using DOT accredited establishments and facilities to avoid being victim to these bogus activities.

In last night’s  episode of Travel Pass, a DOT-produced segment  that airs on PTV4, Jimenez reiterated the importance of due diligence in choosing the right tour operator and package ”to maximize the value of your money.”

“There’s no substitute to your own due diligence because pera mo ‘yun, dapat lang talagang pag-ingatan mo bago mo ipamigay. Hard earned money, so dapat angverification mo (ng travel agent ay) tama,” Undersecretary Jimenez said.

Christopher Olivro, general manager of Amanpulo Holidays, said there is reason to believe that other hotels are being victimized by the same racket.

“These fraudulent parties typically issue fake vouchers to be used for alleged bookings, and sometimes even make off with deposits paid by their unsuspecting clients in relation to the fake bookings,” said Olivro in his letter to the DOT.

Undersecretary Jimenez urged travelers to observe WISE, the acronym for:  Work out your travel plans; Identify your tour/travel agencies; See if they are accredited; and Engage only those verified.

Jimenez also shared three simple steps in verifying the legitimacy of a travel agent.

First is to check if the travel agency is accredited by DOT through their website Accredited establishments like tour operators, accommodations, and even transport operators have already complied with the Department’s minimum standards in the operation which shall ensure the safety, comfort, and convenience of the tourist.

Second is to compare the price of the tour package with other established online booking sites like Agoda. “Tandaan lang ng mga tao kung masyadong mura baka naman sila talaga ay mapapamura dahil naloloko lang talaga sila sa mga paketa na ganon,” Jimenez added.

Lastly is to be wary of the bank deposit payment system. Purchases via credit cards or payment identifiers like PayPal are more likely secured from fly-by-night malpractices.

DOT accredited travel agencies found to be involved in these illegal activities would be stripped off of their accreditation.

The DOT is also in coordination with the Consumer Protection Group of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and local government units thru the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for convergence programs to further protect the general public.

“Sa ngayon, nagte-take din kami ng steps para lalo naming maprotektahan ang consumers. We are going to have a meeting with DTI and DILG para magsasama at magsasanib pwersa para mas may ngipin ang implementation at pag-regulate ng mga fly-by-night operators,” Jimenez assured.


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