Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Vice President of Umrah and Haj, Shahrulnezam Mohd Daud, is saddened over the report that 453 Malaysian umrah pilgrims have been unable to fly home since Dec 22 as scheduled.
He said pilgrims wishing to perform the umrah should not fall for cheap packages offered by companies or individuals acting as middlemen but deal direct with licensed tour companies issued with special umrah licence.
He said more than 200 tour companies are MATTA members with "Lesen Khas Umrah" offering umrah packages nationwide.
Pilgrims are encouraged to approach them to compare and establish market prices and they should be suspicious of anyone that offers ridiculously cheap prices, he stressed.
"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 short change their customers, " said MATTA President Datuk Tan Kok Liang.
"Members must comply with the MATTA Code of Ethics and those involved in cheating will be expelled," he said.
"Swift action will be taken on any member found to be involved in cheating or short changing the public.
Malaysians should also learn to pay reasonably for services, as there is 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" said Tan. - Nikko Fabian