‘Unregistered tour operators mushrooming in Valley’
Srinagar, Mar 5: The Valley tour operators have expressed concern over the “increasing number of unregistered tour and travel agencies” in the city.
“There are number of so-called travel agencies operating in Srinagar without registration. Many STD/PCO shops, for instance, offer online booking of airlines or railway tickets. Many of them are not registered, though they write travel agency on their sign boards,” said Nasir Shah, general secretary J&K Tourism Alliance and member Travel Agents Society of Kashmir, adding that operating an agency without registration was an “illegal” activity.
Tour operators said the unregistered travel agents had time and again cheated people, “which ultimately gives bad name to Kashmir tourism.”
“They are spoiling the image of entire tourism industry yet the authorities are witnessing all this as mute spectators,” said Nazir A Bakshi, noted tour operator and managing partner, Shiraz Travels.
“They are not in official records, which means if tomorrow there is a complaint against them regarding overcharging or poor services it is very difficult to locate them. This actually gives a bad name to the genuine travel agencies,” echoed Shah.
Not only tour operators associated with general tourism, those catering to Hajj and U ah services also are concerned about this situation.
President All J&K Hajj and U ah Tour Operators Association, Nissar Ahmad, said many non-professionals in the city were offering Hajj and U ah services, “where as they have neither any experience nor registration of any recognized body.”
“Many people working as chefs or in sweet shops, automobile workshops, etc, are displaying boards that they offer Hajj and U ah services, where as they have absolutely no knowledge about the job. The authorities should not allow them to do so, for it is illegal,” he said, adding that any fresher should first learn the job and then set up an agency.
Ahmad said many unregistered tour operators disappeared after acquiring huge sum of money from the people, “by which we are acquiring a bad name in the society.”
“We want to make it clear that if tomorrow such thing will happen, Private Tour Operators should not be held responsible, for we don’t know who they are. People themselves need to be cautious of such cheats and should try and avail the services of only professional agencies,” he said.
Ahmad said barring six or seven tour operators, nobody else in the Valley was registered for Hajj and U ah services.
He said the Hajj and U ah tour operators are mainly registered with All India Hajj U ah Tour Operators Association, recognized by ministry of external affairs, which provides license and quota to the agencies.
The other registration authority for travel agencies is the department of tourism. “Registration means proper verification of a person, by which he or she comes in the records of the government and is provided license for a commercial activity. This way the person also remains cautious not to commit an offence,” said Shah. “And if he is not registered, he may cheat people without any fear,” he added.
Tour operators said the government should check such people and conduct a proper survey to find out their number.
“They should engage a vigilance team to see to it which travel agency is not registered. They should on the spot check registration papers of the agencies,” said Shah. “If someone is found unregistered, they should immediately be sealed off,” he added.
Bakshi said there were not only unregistered travel agencies, “but also some registered agencies (on records) that do not exist.”
“Many people acquire licenses for their financial benefits but do not set up an agency. The department of tourism should deregister everybody and then register those who are actually working,” Bakshi said, adding that they had been demanding the same for very long.
Acknowledging that the activity was “illegal,” director tourism, Farooq Shah said the department had already started working in this direction.
“Our task force is already working and we have sealed many such travel agencies,” he said.
“We won’t allow anybody who is not registered to function for they cheat people and give a bad name to Kashmir,” he added.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 5 Mar 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 5 Mar 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 6 Mar 2010 00:00:00 IST
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