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Help protect yourself against Holiday Scams – Holiday Planning & Travel Guide

First time visitors: If you cannot find what you came here for, please feel free to contact me

They are travel companies created every week and a high percentage of these companies will be legit, but running a check on them will help you relieve any fears that you may have about booking with them.

If the travel company is a registered UK company then you can find more information about the company on Companies House website. Run a search for the travel company, and you’ll find out when the company was registered, and when it started operating as a limited company.

Google it – run a search, for the website address and business name, don’t look just at the first page of the search results – look through a few pages to see if you can find any bad press or comments on forums and social networking sites.

If the website mentions package holidays, then they should be bonded by either ABTA , Travel Trust Association etc. I would recommend paying for your holiday with a debit or credit card as this carry’s some protection if the losses are regarded as non-delivery of goods or services.

One of the sites unveiled as a scam last year, Unbeatableholidays.com had its domain name registered in 2006 and consumers can find out when the web address was created by visiting DNS Stuff and using the domain search [scroll down – it’s free!]

If the site mentions that they sell flights then they have to be registered with Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing [ATOL] so if you don’t see ATOL details on the site then visit this website and run a search on the company concerned.

It’s obvious that consumers are a little weary about booking holidays with unknown travel companies after last years’ holiday scams. As a keen traveller I want to make sure that my trip is hassle free, so if I am booking a holiday with the unknown I try and protect myself by carrying out various checks.

ABTA pulled out of consumer protection last year, so don’t automatically assume you’ll be protected if you book through a travel agent who has an ABTA sign on their door, in the event that they may go bust, or run off with your money without booking your holiday. In addition, ABTA has limited the amount it will pay out if a tour operator goes bust (companies that put the package together), although if this does happen, you should still be protected through the operator’s ATOL. Agents (and niche operators) who are members of the TTA (Travel Trust Association) offer some of the best, if not the best, protection around, so I would recommend going with them.

Excelent Advice from Darren and especially Lisa Hamilton. As a long established ( nearly 12 years) member of the Travel Trust Association, ATOL Holders and also an AITO ( Association of Independent Tour Operators) specialist Travel Agency we have just the pedigree that Darren looked for when booking his holiday to Kos last Autumn. Lisa made an extremely good Point with regards to ABTA, everybody has heard about ABTA, but not everybody understands how much cover is given. Perhaps that could be your next piece of research Darren ?

Is there a resource somewhere of all of the different travel associations in the UK? Or are ATOL, ABTA, TTA, AITO the only ones for me to concentrate on? Thanks Lisa, I wasn’t aware that ABTA pulled out of consumer protection last year, and that the agencies are limited to the amount they are covered for. Is there somewhere were consumers can find this information out?

Not surprisingly, ABTA has not publicised the fact that it is no longer involved in customer protection!

ABTA has been seen as travel’s ‘consumer champion’ for so long, and most people still think that they are covered.

While the story has been covered in the travel trade press, the consumer press has been slow to pick it up and when they have mentioned it, it is only briefly.

Sadly, it will take a disaster/crisis to make this headline news (in the same way as Farepack, the Christmas savings-plan company that went bust last year was splashed all over the newspapers).

If you’ve booked a flight with a charter operator, then you will be protected under the Civil Aviation Authority’s ATOL.

The whole issue of consumer protection with regards to holidays is very fragmented and very confusing.

ABTA’s protection was there to pay out, for example, when a dodgy agent took your money for the holiday, didn’t pass it on to the tour operator, then the agent went bust.

ABTA has not pulled out of consumer protection. What it has said is if someone commits a fraud it won’t pay. This was manly due to the millions it suddenly found it self paying when companies pretend to be members. It is worth noting that to the best of my knowledge no organisation pays out if someone pretends to be a member and their not. For an easy guide see this link http://www.abta.com/whatyouneedtoknow.shtml. It also now limits the amount it pays to tour operator member when a travel agent member goes bust. This does not affect consumers, just tour operator. If you for instance book a ferry and hotel with an ABTA member and they go bust, ABTA will refund you if the trip is not provided. ABTA also has a set of rules that members must follow dealing with everything from staff to how long it takes to reply to a letter. Hope this helps to clear it up a bit.

Michael on 12 February, 2007 at 12:53 am #

The Telegraph newspaper did an investigation on European Vacations and it seemed they are genuine but it is a way of selling holidays in hotels etc. that are short of bookings and you have to weigh up whether the add-ons this company require are too expensive or not – if you could do just as well or better buying your own holiday through a major tourist company!

Suspect they are selling hols. at quiet periods to fill up hotels and not maybe when would suit yourself.

Wouldl be interested to hear if anything further is known about them as we have been offered a Med.cruise by this company..

I should check this post more often. Apologies to those I haven’t responded to but Jez, which company is it? ABTA bonded should mean you do not loose out, but I am not convinced with some of the stories that I am hearing.

ABTA will pay out for accommodation only provided the company was bonded with them. Alas, you can now be a member of ABTA and if you are not selling package holidays, which have to be protected by law, ABTA allow companies to arrange alternative methods of protection, which ABTA have no control over. You should check the conditions of the company and see what it says about financial protection. I have to say I cannot recall seeing a recent failure of such a company, unless it was Leisure Connection which ceased trading a few months ago. Today I had the pleasure of a 15 minute phone call from Florida telling me I had been awarded a 2 week holiday to Florida and the Bahamas. This story was one I had heard 15 years ago which was one of the biggest scams in the UK, ir reached Watchdog and the Daily Mirror. In case you get a similar call, you are offered a 90% discount, no explanation why, but you have to pay £399 immediately. This gives you a voucher to book the holiday at a later date… Don’t touch it with a barge pole, the accommodation is timeshare with bad reviews on tripadvisor and the cruise ship appears to have been built in Scotland in 1955, some luxury that is likely to be. The company is calling itself Travelworld of Florida

 

The Ideal Destinations in Dong Nai for Nature Lovers

Referring to Dong Nai, many people will think that this province is only famous for the industrial zones, but more than that, Dong Nai has many beautiful landscapes for tourists to visit and explore.

If you are a nature lover and looking for a place to enjoy a holiday with friends, the following places can bring you with funny experiences.

O and Dong Truong are two islands located on the vast Tri An lake water. Falling yourselves in line with the poetic scenery, you will have the chance to engage in exciting outdoor activities. You can self-organize the activities or use the travel services available here. Seeing the sunrise in the morning or sunset, or hanging hammocks, setting up tents, staying over night in the jungle… are the exciting experiences you should try.In particular, visitors also have the opportunity to enjoy the rustic dishes prepared on the spot by the locals. One dish you can not ignore is hot and sour hemibagrus vegetable soup and caramel hemibagrus.

After enjoying the local cuisine, you can hang a hammock under the green leaf canopy and enjoy the fresh breeze, smell the cool flavor of grass or listen to the waves crashing onto the shore.From Ho Chi Minh city, you ride along the Nation Highway 1 toward Dong Nai, when reaching Tri An T-junction, you drive about 9 km further to the center of Vinh An town, Vinh Cuu district. Then, you can ask the locals the way to Dong Truong wharf.Being considered the “Ha Long Bay” in miniature, Buu Long has been known as the most beautiful mountain of Dong Nai River basin with plains, smooth green isles and a series of arrays of flooded forest.

Buu Long tourist area covers an area of over 84 hectares, and is located on Huynh Van Nghe road, 6 km from the center of Bien Hoa City and about 25 km from Ho Chi Minh city. This tourist attraction has two main mountain clusters including Long Son – Thac Dong mountain and Binh Dien mountain cluster. Buu Long has high mountains, vast lake, fresh air bringing travelers with the comfortable and relaxing feelings.Standing on the top of Binh Dien mountain, visitors can see the vast green paddy fields and winding rivers which look like paintings. Seeing to the distance, you can see the city of Bien Hoa with crowded buildings. Interestingly, visitors can visit ancient temples preserved on these two mountain clusters. The mossy stupas or a some blocks of stone with strange shapes will leave an unforgettable impression on visitors.You can also participate in other interesting activities such as boating, swing, duck boat, fishing. Activities like camping, night party, campfire… are also the exciting experiences.

Nam Cat Tien Nation Park is a nature reserve located on the territory of three provinces including Dong Nai, Lam Dong and Binh Phuoc, 150 km from Ho Chi Minh city to the north. Here, you will get a chance to test the endurance and bravery of yourselves while crossing the dense forests. Leisurely walking or riding bicycles on the trails in the woods are the interesting activities you should try.One destination that can not be missed in the journey exploring Nam Cat Tien national park is Bau Sau lake. The bewitching dances of the peacocks, birds twittering and the majestic jungle scene will make you overwhelmed.Ba Chong stone landmark is located on the heart of Dinh Quan district, right on the way to Dalat . There are 3 stones overlapping one another, and have a height of 36m. Among the three stones, the bottom rock is twice as big as the rest two ones, and the stone on the top juts out over the ground, and looks like to fall down at any time. With such a strange shapes, Ba Chong stone has long been a popular tourist locations attracting visitors in and outside the province to visit and take pictures.

Vietnam Highlights – Destinations

From the port of Cai Rong (Van Don, Quang Ninh), it takes visitors about 1.5 hours travelling by high-speed ship to the island where you should spend about 3 days to explore and have fun.The best time to visit Co To Island is in summer, from April to September with total cost of about VND 1,200,000 / person.Co To Island is situated in Quang Ninh province, about three hours travelling by ship from Cai Rong harbor. In recent rive years, the island has become the favorite place of young people in the summers with activities in the sea and night camping. Co To Island still has many wild features, the beaches with clear water, fine sand, and undeveloped tourists services.From Hanoi, tourists can travel by passenger cars to Cam Pha, Cua Ong at My Dinh and Luong Yen bus stations. The price is about 200,000 VND/ ticket and it will take 4 hours. From here, you should catch the bus to go to Cai Rong port, then stay overnight in a hostel near the port so that you will be punctual for the early boat to Co to Island.

There are two types of ships going to the island: High- speed ship departs at 1 pm every day of the week, each departure takes 90 minutes and costs about 135,000 VND /turn/ person. Another king of ship is timber ship which departs daily at 6:30 am from the harbor to the island and returns at 1 pm in about 3 hours.Commuting on the island: Motorcycle renting cost VND 200,000/day, bike, motorcycle taxi, or taxi.On the island, there is not many service available; therefore, to have enough food for, you should book in advance or bring extra food from the mainland. Morning markets located near the residential area of town, so you can go shopping for more foods for the meals. Uy Thanh Restaurant is one of the restaurants that have good services and cheap price on the island.In the evening, there are sea-food stalls along the coast with he reasonable price.

On the island, there are not many motels, mostly because the people build themselves and there are only simple equipment. Coto District Party Committee Guest House provides accommodation with the price of over 200,000 / room. Co To Lodge Hotel costs around VND 500,000/double room. The other hostels’ prices are mostly over 200,000/ room.Note: The electricity grid on Co To Island is not very developed; therefore, so far, the electricity has been cut off after 11pm. The hostels have only a fan and no air conditionings.Bac Van Beach is located near the entrance to the island, from the wharf, visitor can see this almost 15km- long beach spreading to the end of the island. The beach has big wave and has a very beautiful road with casuarinas along two sides.Hong Van beach, located 8 km from the town, is considered the most beautiful beach in Co To.

The water here is very blue and clear.Van Chai beach is situated in the end of the island. This is the most beautiful place to see the sunset; however, tourists also remember to come back when the moon rises, the tide is low which exposes a flat sand stretching endlessly.Co To Island’s Lighthouse is located on an altitude of more than one hundred meters above sea level. When visiting the lighthouse, tourists have to ask the post chief for his permission to climb up the lighthouse.Little Co To, a small islands located about half an hour traveling by boat from Co To Island. To reach the island, visitors have to book the ship in advance. Boats to the island depart in the morning and return in the course of the day.

This is an uninhabited island, there is also no fresh water on the island, so if planning to go for a picnic here, you have to prepare enough food, drink, and necessary items.- The food on the island is not rich and various; therefore, if you take a trip in large groups, you should by foods to bring with you. Seafood can be purchased in Co To market.- In the Evening, there are a lot of mosquitoes in the beaches, remember to bring mosquito net and mosquito repellent to avoid being bitten- The weather is quite cold at night on the island, be sure to bring a warm jacket.- If camping on the beach, you should choose a place where is sheltered from the wind and remember to bring a torch.Tags : Halong bay