There is a group of unscrupulous businesspeople, who are giving our country a bad name overseas and threatening a vital industry that earns some decent foreign exchange to meet basic needs and boost national development.
These are the rogue tour operators, who have been luring and preying on some of the visitors. They reportedly lure the tourists, promising them great and affordable tour packages, but once they arrive in the country, they are ripped off and abandoned.
This is horrible and an unforgivable erosion of the reputation that the country has painstakingly built over the years as a hospitable destination, and having some of the best tourist attractions in the world. Tourism is a delicate and sensitive industry that must be jealously guarded, if we hope to attract more visitors.
It is highly unlikely that many people will venture out of their homes and travel to far away destinations, where their safety cannot be guaranteed. Also, it takes a lot of meticulous planning and saving by the would-tourists with adequate resources devoted to such travel to ensure that they do not get stranded away from home.
Tourists also pay keen attention to the news from the destinations that they plan to visit. The stories of unscrupulous tour operators ripping off visitors spread like bush fire and it takes a lot of promotion to regain lost confidence. It is quite encouraging, therefore, to hear that the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife is investigating reports that some unlicensed tour operators have defrauded hundreds of tourists.
The con operators have been mounting fake online campaigns, promising attractive packages to would-be visitors, and asking them to make advance payments. The visitors only realise that they are victims of fraudsters on arrival. The Tourism Regulatory Authority, the Tourist Police Unit and the Directorate of Criminal Investigation have the capacity to flush out and get the crooks arrested and charged.
These fraudsters have no place in a country that cherishes clean business and has distinguished itself as a hospitable tourist destination.