Image used for representation.

Image used for representation. 

KOCHI: International tourism is witnessing a rise this summer season and so are frauds in the name of tourism in Kerala. Four cases of fraudsters swindling money from people offering attractive low-budget tour packages were registered in Ernakulam district last month.

Recently, a woman approached Ernakulam Central police after she lost Rs 30,000 to a fraudster. According to the police, the victim saw an advertisement for a cheap tour package for Kashmir in January.

“The agent had offered the package for just Rs 30,000, including flight tickets, for April. However, after taking the money, neither the promised tickets were delivered nor the accommodation was arranged. Thus, she approached us with a complaint and we have registered a case,” a police officer at the Ernakulam Central police station said. Meanwhile, Ernakulam South police have arrested a travel agency manager in Kochi who syphoned off money from several people offering flight tickets at cheaper prices. Paulose Mathew, chairman of the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), Kerala chapter, said the fake tour agents attract customers mostly through social media platforms.

“The scammers mainly operate through social media platforms. They offer attractive schemes that would make potential travellers think about visiting foreign countries instead of domestic tourist destinations for a cheaper price. Recently, I saw an advertisement on a social media platform that offered a week-long Japan tour package for just Rs 1.5 lakh. We have been working in this sector for the past several decades, and it is impossible to chart a trip to Japan for less than Rs 3 lakh,” he said.

Paulose said people should cross-check the genuineness of the agency before giving money. “Most tour agencies are also involved in air-ticketing activities. They will have a licence from IATA for the same. People should visit the offices of these agencies and also check on their experience in the travel and tourism sector. People should also read about the experiences of their customers. Fraudsters also approach the victims using the names of reputed agencies,” he said.

Interestingly, this season, more people are exploring tourist destinations in the northeastern states. On the international circuit, many are opting for Central Asian countries and Vietnam. “The outbound tourism sector this year has overcome the recession during the Covid-19 era. With direct flights from Kochi, Vietnam is becoming a popular destination. Similarly, many are preferring Central Asian countries to spend their vacation period. In the domestic circle, tour packages covering Darjeeling and Gangtok have many takers now. Kashmir has always been a preferred destination during the summer vacations,” he added.

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