Maldivian Association for Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) urges to expedite and conclude the revision of Travel Agents regulation. Towards the later of last year, a project initiated by UNDP in collaboration with Ministry of Economic Development and MATATO; under a National Consultancy for the formulation Industry Standards for strengthening Service Capacity of Local Travel Agents and Tour Operators in Maldives was conducted to revise the present travel agents regulation and this process has been on-going for the last 9 months. MATATO believes that the present travel agents’ regulation is out of date and needs to be strict in several aspects.
In light of the recent incidents and actions taken by Maldives Police Service against few travel agents for fraud cases is something that MATATO is very concerned and believes strict counter measures need to be in place to prevent such cases in future. The association also believes that these scenarios of fraud have been led because there is lack of regulation and monitoring by the authorities.
We have also noticed that these unethical dealings and frauds are often repeated cases and those involved are summoned to the Police on several times. At the same time, there are many Maldivian travel agents who are been cheated by foreign tour operators and we need assistance from the Police and Tourism Ministry in solving these issues as well. The association works for the development and promotion of travel agents but at same time make sure there are ethics and integrity, which should be maintained by its members and the industry as a whole.
MATATO is presently working with Maldives Police to find means to prevent such situations in future but the association is also worried on the way this news came out as local agents have always been under scrutiny by many hoteliers. Maldives Police making a vague statement saying several travel agents are been investigated under fraud worries many members, as this targets the whole travel agents industry, thus the association requests Maldives Police to make public names of these travel agents who has been found guilty as this has adverse effects on other travel agents reputation as well.
In conclusion, MATATO urges Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Tourism and UNDP to assist in getting the revision of travel agents regulation done as soon as possible, as this will cover counter measures on several areas relating to travel agents in Maldives.