‘It’s unacceptable’, says Government minister
THE GOVERNMENT is today hosting a summit to tackle problems faced by British Muslims making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
Travel operators, community groups and consumer organisations will discuss with the Government how to protect people from rogue travel agents.
In recent years many pilgrims have been ripped off by a variety of scams.
Some victims have paid for five-star hotels but have been left with poor quality cramped rooms, while for others visa’s and flight tickets have not arrived in time.
In extreme cases the government said agents were “simply disappearing” taking pilgrims’ money with them.
Consumer Minister Gareth Thomas said British citizens were being treated in an “unacceptable” manner.
“Unfortunately, for some pilgrims what should be the occasion of a lifetime is turning into a nightmare”, he said.
“It’s not acceptable and we want to put an end to it. We need to help pilgrims avoid booking with rogue travel agents and to get redress when they fall foul of those who break the law.
“Pilgrims who are defrauded by rogue travel operators must complain to the Police or Trading Standards, so we can take action to bring the criminals to justice.
“It is encouraging for the UK’s annual 25,000 Hajj pilgrims that so many people involved have come together today to find solutions.”
Hajj pilgrims from the UK have legal rights under the Package Travel Regulations and may be eligible for compensation if a tour operator has failed to honour its contractual obligations.
To help avoid rogue traders, pilgrims are advised to check the package operator holds an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL), consider booking with a company that has been independently recommended by friends or family, and keep documents such as contracts, invoices and letters in a safe place.