The ministry will also discuss quota with Saudi Arabia
by FAREZZA HANUM RASHID
THE Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) will review the credibility of travel agencies, especially those conducting the Umrah pilgrimage, following numerous cases of fraud.
Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said Motac has taken stringent actions against these companies such as cancelling their licences, but there are still complaints of similar incidents.
There have been recent complaints from Umrah pilgrims who were not taken to the destinations or given the services that were promised by the travel agencies.
To worsen the situation, these Umrah pilgrims failed to contact the travel agency upon arrival at the airport in Saudi Arabia. These companies are heartlessly ignoring their responsibilities and abandoning their customers.
The review committee will be led by Motac Deputy Minister Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan, who will present a complete report within a month.
Tiong has also requested for detailed records of these companies throughout their handling of Umrah pilgrims.
“This is to ensure that travel agencies are more responsible when conducting business and do not leave their customers in a lurch.
“I will also pay a courtesy call on His Excellency the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Malaysia as well as the Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah to discuss the pilgrim quota,” he said.
Tiong added that if Motac is entrusted, a committee headed by Khairul Firdaus will be established to manage the matter rather than passing it on directly to travel agencies.
This is to ensure that the process of Umrah pilgrims from Malaysia will be managed more smoothly, transparently and responsibly and avoid similar fraud incidents from recurring.
Travel agencies, whether they have been operating for a while or new companies, are also required to report every activity related to their customers during the Umrah trip to Motac, to enable the ministry to closely monitor and ensure that all promises are fulfilled.
Tiong said the initiative is expected to help and protect Umrah pilgrims from future frauds as well as warn travel agencies against deceiving their customers and strive to provide the best service.
“I also appeal to all travel agency companies offering Umrah packages to always be honest in conducting their business and always be responsible in providing the promised services.
“The companies in question are prohibited from marketing and offering services that they are unable to provide such as not having the proper quota or logistics capacity,” he added.