muslim pilgrims booking their Hajj tours are being urged to be wary of rogue travel agents after a flurry of complaints.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards has produced an information leaflet for those planning to make a trip to Saudi Arabia this October. It follows various complaints from travellers in the Leeds region, and several national court cases.
Hajj, a pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, involves hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on the holy city for a week for intense prayer and rituals.
Consumers booking via UK-based travel agents have in the past raised concerns about poor quality and overcrowded hotel rooms, poor transport and a lack of clarity on what the package includes. Some rogue agents have also reportedly taken pilgrims’ money and disappeared.
Councillor Bill Urry, of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said: “There are unscrupulous tour operators that deliberately target the Muslim community claiming to specialise in organising Hajj packages. These air tour operators do not have a licence, are breaking the law and do not provide legal protection for travellers. Consumers need to be aware, and make sure that they ask for the ATOL number when making enquiries about a Hajj pilgrimage trip.”
Trading Standards officers have been visiting Hajj organisers to advise and check compliance with package travel regulations.
Pilgrims are reminded to take out travel insurance, and to retain all paperwork given to them by the Hajj organiser in case something goes wrong and a claim has to be made. Download the new leaflet from.hajj.wyjs.org.uk