The City Tourism Office has raised concerns over the reported activities of online scammers posing as travel agents and victimizing travelers in Puerto Princesa City.
“It’s a very big challenge for the city to address the problem with illegitimate online travel agents because of their fake identity. They don’t have a license and operate online, so how can you regulate them?” Aileen Cynthia Amurao told Palawan News Monday.
In a privilege speech at City Council’s regular session, Councilor Henry Gadiano reported the case of a local tourist who was allegedly victimized by a fake travel agency.
The victim paid a Puerto Princesa Underground River tour package worth P32,000 to a company called Easy Go in September. She was supposed to avail the package this month but the travel agency’s contact person she transacted with was not responding anymore.
“We are trying very hard to project a good image of the City of Puerto Princesa but there are some unscrupulous individuals who are preying on our tourists,” Gadiano said.
City Tourism head Cynthia Amurao added that similar complaints about Easy Go had been raised to their attention.
Tracing their whereabouts and confirming their identity, Amurao said, is “quite a challenge for us.” “We don’t even know if the personality the complainant has given us really exist,” she added.
Since 2014, she said around six licensed travel agencies had been revoked of their permit and charged with fines.
Currently, she said her office is in the process of refining the official city tourism website to include a facility where tourists can safely book tour packages and tourist transport, aside from the existing facility for booking accommodations.