KUALA LUMPUR, 20 December 2017: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Vice President of Umrah and Haj, Shahrulnezam Mohd Daud disagrees with Umrah be placed under Tabung Haji as advocated by a consumers’ association.
Shahrulnezam said “The amount lost in Umrah scams average RM5 million per year and is very much lower than the RM5 billion losses suffered by one million Malaysians through money game investment scams for this year alone. Nevertheless, it is heart-wrenching to see the hopes of pilgrims dashed by ruthless swindlers.”
“Most of the culprits were middlemen or individuals acting as freelancers that disappeared after in possession of large sums of money. Such risks could be reduced by holding licensed Umrah tour operators accountable for the action of sub-agents, be they tour agencies or individuals representing them.”
“Annually, the vast majority of Umrah pilgrims, numbering several hundred thousand, travelled without incidents. It would be unwise and irresponsible to dismantle such an established mechanism and put hundreds of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) especially bumiputera tour operators and thousands of employees in jeopardy. It would be difficult for bumiputera tour operators in the private sector to compete and stay in business if any other government agencies taking over.”
“For many years, those operating Umrah tours must obtain an ‘Outbound’ licence from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTAC) and recently, only outbound tour operators with ‘Lesen Khas Umrah’ are authorised to do so.”
“As such, the necessary safeguards are already in place, and there is no need to reinvent the wheel”, said Shahrulnezam.
MATTA President, Datuk Tan Kok Liang added, “While it is a serious-priority to combat fraudulent Umrah packages, it is still important to take private sector tour operators welfare into consideration to safeguard the interests of bumiputera tour operators for the benefit of the industry.”
SHAHRULNEZAM MOHD DAUD
Vice President Umrah & Haj, MATTA
Term 2017 – 2019