from FUTHI MBHELE in Durban
DURBAN – THE Umhlanga Tourism has alerted tourists and travellers to fraudsters scamming members of the public ahead of the festive season.
The agency revealed most of these scams were carried out on Facebook.
Jeannie Sarno, Umhlanga Tourism chairperson, thus advised people to be attentive when making bookings on the social media service.
She urged members of the public to contact the region’s Tourism Information Centre whenever they suspect they are being scammed.
“Umhlanga Tourism Office has seen a lot of such victims reaching out to others about their recent scams,” Sarno said.
“This makes it so much harder for the decent and honest businesses trying to sell their rooms,” she lamented.
“Naturally, a deposit is required to secure a booking. Once a guest has been previously scammed, they are skeptical to be doing such payments,” Sarno explained.
“…or perhaps their budget has already been spent on the scam. So, we lose potential visitors. Visitors don’t only book and occupy rooms. They visit attractions, restaurants and shops. We all lose out.”
Sarno said with Facebook having no means to control cyber criminals, the victims can open a criminal case at the police station.
“Sadly the onus lies with the person booking. If the rate for an area seems too good to be true, most likely it is too good and not true,” she advised.
Sarno said by law any tourism related organisation should be members of their local Community Tourism Organisation (CTO) and Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA).
“If they are not, then you (the public) are already taking a chance,” she told CAJ News.
The uMhlanga CTO markets and promotes the northern region of Durban.
Regions include Durban North, La Mercy, Mt Edgecombe, Tongaat, uMdloti, uMhlanga, Verulam and Westbrook.
The area is one of the most favourite tourist destinations in South Africa.
– CAJ News