KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) today advised pilgrims who want to perform the ‘umrah’ (minor Haj) not to be taken in by cheap packages offered by companies or individuals acting as middlemen.
Its vice-president for umrah and haj, Shahrulnezam Mohd Daud, suggested that they deal directly with licensed tour companies which had been issued with the ‘lesen khas umrah’ (special umrah licence).
“More than 200 tour companies are MATTA members with the ‘lesen khas umrah’’ offering umrah packages nationwide and pilgrims are encouraged to approach them to compare the market prices and be suspicious of anyone who offers ridiculously cheap prices.
“The police should apply the full force of the law against individuals acting as middlemen out to cheat pilgrims, and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture should haul up licensed tour operators that shortchange their customers,” he said, adding that MATTA members must comply with the MATTA Code and Ethics and those involved in cheating would be expelled.
Shahrulnezam said he was also saddened by the report of 453 Malaysian umrah pilgrims who had been unable to fly home from the Holy Land since Dec 22.
Meanwhile, MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said swift action would be taken against any member found to be involved in cheating or shortchanging the public.
He advised Malaysians to also learn to pay reasonably for services as there was no such thing as a free lunch.
“Pilgrims who expect a portion of their tour package to be topped up by ‘donation’ will be in deep trouble when no such amount is forthcoming,” he said.