Beware of fake travel agencies — DOT

MANILA, March 30 (PNA) — With several affordable travel packages available today, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has warned the public of bogus tour operators that take advantage of unsuspecting customers.

In the recent episode of Travel Pass, a DOT-produced segment that airs on PTV4, a tourism official stressed the importance of using DOT accredited establishments and facilities to avoid being victim to these bogus activities.

Undersecretary for Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation (TRCRG) Alma Rita Jimenez said customers should observe due diligence in choosing the right tour operator and package.

“There’s no substitute to your own due diligence because pera mo ‘yun, dapat lang talagang pag-ingatan mo bago mo ipamigay (that’s your money, you should really be cautious before spending),” Jimenez said.

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Jimenez, meanwhile, 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.

To verify the legitimacy of a travel agent, she also urged travelers to first check if the travel agency is accredited by DOT through their websiteaccreditationonline.tourism.gov.ph.

Accredited establishments like tour operators, accommodations, and even transport operators have already complied with the DOT’s minimum standards in the operation which shall ensure the safety, comfort, and convenience of the tourist.

She also urged travelers to compare the price of the tour package with other established online booking sites like Agoda.

Finally, she said that travelers should 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.

She pointed out that DOT-accredited travel agencies found to be involved in these illegal activities would immediately be stripped off of their accreditation.

At present, 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 from bogus travel agencies.

“…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 (We are taking steps to further protect customers. (We are going to have a meeting with DTI and DILG to regulate fly-by night operators),” Jimenez assured. (PNA)



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