Bogus bookings and tour packages noted
The scam involving bogus tourism offers is not an exclusive concern of Baguio City, but also in other areas frequented by visitors.
The Department of Tourism-Cordillera shared the call of the Baguio City Tourism Office for tourists to be wary of engaging the services of entities offering cheap accommodation, tours, and transport services online due to the proliferation of individuals involved in bogus booking services for tourists.
DOT-CAR Senior Tourism Officer Bayani Malicdem said concerns about fake booking services are also reported in other tourist spots in the region like Sagada, Mountain Province and Banaue, Ifugao.
The DOT has been intensifying the campaign for the public to patronize DOT-accredited establishments, tour operators, and tour guides to avoid being victimized by individuals offering deals of packages that are cheap, but are not existing.
Tourists are advised to contact the DOT and secure a list of accredited accommodation facilities and other tourism-related services like transport services and tours or if they want to be sure that the entity they are dealing with online is legitimate.
“Tourists dealing with DOT-accredited accommodation facilities and tour guide services are assured of quality and standards and are safe from scams,” Malicdem said.
The BCTO has also been reminding tourists to check first if the entity they are dealing with is listed in the Baguio Visita.
City Tourism Officer Alec Mapalo said the office has been receiving numerous complaints about bogus booking.
“What’s unfortunate is, most of the complaints are against entities that might not even be from Baguio City because they were transacted online and aimed at visitors who want to have a good deal,” Mapalo said.
He added tourists only realize they were scammed when they arrive in the city and their booked accommodation and tours do not exist and the people or the entity they transacted with online can no longer be contacted.
Tourists who fall prey to scammers are given options on where to rebook.
Baguio City Police Office Director Francisco Bulwayan, Jr. said if a tour package offered online is too good to be true, then it probably is a scam.
The BCPO created anti-cyber crime teams to help clients who complain of unfair online business transactions such as bogus bookings. – Jane B. Cadalig