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DOT warns tourists against bogus travel agents

DOT warns tourists against bogus travel agencies

By Bing J. Jaleco / April 13, 2018

MANILA, Philippines - DOT Secretary Wanda Teo said hundreds of thousands of Filipino tourists travel domestically during the summer period.

With the summer season officially on in the Philippines, the Department of Tourism (DOT) reminded the public against bogus travel agencies, which usually offer “too-good-to-be-true” tour packages online.

DOT Secretary Wanda Teo said hundreds of thousands of Filipino tourists travel domestically during the summer period.

Based on DOT statistics, at least seven million Filipinos travel around the country between April and May, with Cebu as the top destination for locals.

With this, Teo said, the public must be ‘WISE’ in their travel plans, an acronym for “Work out your travel plans; Identify tour and travel agencies; See tourism quality seal; and Engage accredited service providers only.”

The DOT launched the ‘WISE’ campaign last year to help locals avoid being scammed by fake travel agencies that are prevalent on social media.

“We are in close coordination with the DOT regional offices to make sure that the list of accredited establishment and services are updated and posted in strategic locations, such as airports, terminals, and ports for easy reference,” Teo said.

She advised the public to verify the legitimacy of travel and tour companies by calling DOT regional offices, or by visiting DOT’s database online at www.accreditationonline.tourism.gov.ph.

Teo said travellers can also judge the authenticity of the travel agency by checking the tourism quality seal displayed at their offices, websites, and social media accounts.

She warned DOT-accredited travel agencies found to be involved in illegal activities would be stripped of their accreditation.

RELATED ARTICLE

Beware: Travel fraud becoming rampant on social media

By Travel Weekly Asia / April 20, 2018

More than 100 people have been victim to fraudulent travel services offered over social media.

In Thailand, arrests have been made in three new cases involving alleged fraudulent services by travel agents over social media that affected more than 100 people and amounted in losses of several million baht.

Pol Maj Gen Surachet Hakpal, deputy commissioner of Tourist Police, said police had arrested Apinporn Pongpreechawong on Wednesday for allegedly swindling 35 people out of 1.08 million baht (US$34,562) for a promised nine-day trip to Turkey.

The travellers had booked their trips with Pongpreechawong through social media, costing 31,000 baht each, Bangkok Post reported.

The trip, which travellers had paid for in advance, was scheduled for March 23 to 31. The trip never happened, and Pongpreechawong could not be contacted.

Another case involving 33 Thai tourists on a trip to Japan saw the arrest of Sonthaya Posri. The tourists had flown to Japan on February 2 and were due to return on February 6, and had paid a total of 1.18 million baht for the trip.

They were abandoned at a restaurant in Osaka after they were unable to pay the bill for their tour bus, and were told that the suspect’s company had not paid for the bus service.

The travellers sought help from local police after the bus company withheld their luggage and passports; they also had to fork out about 135,000 baht more while waiting for their return flight on February 6.

Following this episode, Posri had failed to compensate them and later could not be contacted, Pol Maj Gen Surachet said.

In the third case, 49 people reported that they were cheated of 20,000-30,000 baht for a planned trip to the Maldives in March by two women.

The victims were promised via social media that they would be able to seek employment as masseuses at a hotel in the Maldives, with food, accommodation and income guaranteed. But the trip did not come to pass after victims had fully paid for the trip.

It is believed that at least 100 people have been taken in by the fraud, The two suspects in this case remain at large.

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