JOHOR BAHRU: Pilgrims who wish to perform the umrah should be suspicious of travel packages that seemed too good to be true, says a consumer group.
Johor Consumers Movement Association chairman Abdul Majid Kayat said that there had been an increasing number of cases where people were “blinded by cheap packages”.
“Do not believe that travelling to Mecca is as cheap as offered by some of these travel agencies.
“Consumers must check whether these travel agencies are registered with the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) or the Tourism and Culture Ministry before agreeing to buy their packages to avoid being cheated,” he said yesterday.
Abdul Majid advised victims to report their complaints to the authorities such as the Consumer Claims Tribunal.
MATTA president Datuk Hamzah Rahmat said there were no such thing as “cheap umrah packages” as the minimum fee for each trip was at least RM4,900 for a basic package.
“For example, those taking up a RM3,000 umrah trip might be thinking that they are saving RM1,900, but may end up losing the RM3,000.
“Furthermore, if there is any interested benefactor who wish to subsidise umrah packages, you should work with us so that the pilgrims will receive such benefits with peace of mind,” he said.
“I hope the public will learn from the cheating cases and treat all cheap tour packages, particularly those going to umrah, with great suspicion,” he said.
He said the public should only purchase packages from registered travel agents licensed by the Tourism and Culture Ministry.
Umrah and haj trips are two types of pilgrimages that Muslims undertake as a token of their faith.
An umrah is considered as a small or minor pilgrimage, where it can be done at any time of the year or in combination with a haj, while the haj is a major pilgrimage among Muslims and can only be done at a specific time of the year.
In Kuala Terengganu, the remand of a director and an accountant of a Terengganu entity has been extended by three days over the fraud investigation into an umrah package fraud.
Kuala Terengganu Sessions Court assistant registrar Wan Aziantie Wan Ab Karim @ Isa issued the order for the extension of the remand from yesterday, Bernama reported.
The two suspects, both aged 28, were arrested after 47 people and a tour company lodged police reports claiming fraud in the umrah packages offered by the entity.
Police said that 4,800 people, many of them teachers, were cheated under the umrah package offer that involved RM14.2mil.