DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 July) – Tourists who are planning to visit Davao City during the month-long Kadayawan Festival should be wary of unlicensed tour operators who claim to offer “budget” tour packages on social media, City Tourism Office head Generose Tecson said.
Tecson issued the warning after receiving complaints from clients who were duped by individuals that were selling tours without business permits from the Business Bureau and licenses from the local tourism office.
“I will say that it is a serious problem because, of course, you have legitimate travel agents and tour operators,” she said.
She said the unlicensed agents could attract clients online by offering “budget” tour packages, some even offering itineraries that include visits to various tourism spots in the city for as low as P500.
She added the common complaints reaching her office were the agents’ non-appearance on booked dates and failure to deliver on what’s in the tour packages.
“They have a long list of places to visit in their itinerary. However, they are not actually bringing the tourists there but they are just passing by,” she said.
The official reminded the public to protect themselves from unscrupulous illegal tour operators by transacting only with licensed establishments whose packages may cost more because they include travel insurance and payment for the tour guides.
“We are asking the clients to also protect yourselves. Make sure the people that you are dealing with have business permits and tourism licenses,” she said.
She said the local tourism office had blocked around 50 establishments for failure to present tourism licenses during inspection. The city has over 100 registered and licensed tour operators.
Tecson added her office conducts regular inspections to ensure the tour operators have the necessary documents from the local government.
She told operators of van rentals to avoid selling tour packages to tourists.
“Most of the don’t have tourism licenses,” she said.
Tourism arrivals for the first half of 2019 have reached 1.268 million, nearly half of the 3 million target of the local government for the entire year, she said.
Data from the tourism office showed that arrivals for the first semester saw an increase of 8.61% from 1.167% recorded in the same period last year.
Tecson said the tourism office remains optimistic that it can hit the target because she anticipated that tourist arrivals will pick up in the second half, especially during the Kadayawan Festival next month.
The Kadayawan festival, the biggest celebration in the city, highlights the cultures of the city’s 11 tribes, consisting of six Moro tribes (Tausug, Maguindanaon, Iranun, Kagan, Maranao, and Sama) and five Lumad tribes (Klata, Ata, Ubo Manuvo, Matigsalog, and Tagabawa). [Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews]