IPOH – People’s gullibility towards the modus operandi of individuals or groups offering umrah packages caused them to be cheated, said Tourism Licensing Division secretary of the Tourism and Culture Ministry, Alan Abdul Rahim.
He said the modus operandi used by the individuals or groups could be attractive, thus prompting people to take up the umrah packages offered.
“The individuals or groups offer cheap umrah packages, so it would definitely be the choice of users, besides those who are sponsored, for which they would only have to pay part of the cost and the rest is borne by a specific person.
“They also use influential people, such as an ustaz or tok imam to offer umrah packages,” he said at a talk in conjunction with the Perak state-level awareness campaign about fraudulent umrah/pilgrimage packages and on consumer rights, here.
The campaign, organised by the ministry, aimed at creating awareness and providing information to government officials, heads of federal and state departments, as well as non-governmental organisations on the Umrah Regulation Council, implementation of the special umrah licence, and how to recognise a licensed travel agency.
Alan said there were even registered companies which failed to arrange for flight tickets, causing pilgrims to be stranded at the airport, or during transit.
“In addition to that, the companies failed to return the money to the purchasers due to cancellation of the umrah package at the last minute, and the companies did not comply with the terms and conditions of the package as were agreed upon,” he said.
On travel agencies that organised umrah packages, he said that for 2012, there were eight cases involving fines totalling RM16,500, 25 cases in 2013 (RM80,000 in fines) and 17 cases in 2014 (RM75,500 in fines).
The cases involved fraud such as false packages, and unsatisfactory services and compensation payments.
Alan said people should obtain tour packages from travel agencies that were registered and licensed by the ministry.
“First, they need to identify whether the package is registered or not to avoid being cheated,” he said.
On tips to choose a licensed travel agency, he said consumers should ensure that the agency had licences for three sectors, namely domestic tourism (inbound), foreign tourism (outbound) and as a travel agency (ticketing). – BERNAMA