Tightening tourism law in Malaysia

According to The Star Online, “Travellers affected by companies that go bust – such as in a recent case – will be protected under a proposal to amend the Tourism Industry Act.The Tourism Ministry, however, first wants the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) to submit to it a report of how the issue is dealt with in other countries.Deputy Minister Datuk Donald Lim said Matta has been given a month to compile the data. ‘The data will help us plan the amendments to the Act to protect consumers against fraud,’ he told Matta officials at a meeting at the Putra World Trade Centre here on Friday.Earlier this month, tour company Excellence Holiday Sdn Bhd went bust after two directors allegedly deserted it and caused scores of travellers to lose the money they had paid in advance for several tour packages. Lim said 336 people had complained to Matta regarding the failed agency. The losses suffered by the travellers totalled about RM2.4mil.Matta president Ngiam Foon said the association has made comparative research overseas to find out how the regulations protect consumers. ‘We’ve found that Australia, Britain and Hong Kong have provisions to protect consumers while Singapore does not have such regulations,’ he said.Asked how Matta would help the customers affected by the Excellence Holiday debacle, Ngiam said: ‘We are talking to suppliers, hoteliers and airlines to come with a plan to help those who had been cheated. This is not a promise but we will do our best.’ He added that Matta would propose a fund to help the consumers.Elaborating on the matter, he said: ‘Whenever consumers buy a travel package, it would include an extra cost that would go towards the fund.’ ‘The fund will be used to compensate consumers if any incident, such as the one that happened three weeks ago, were to occur,’ added Ngiam.”

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