Next time a travel agent books a sub-standard hotel for you at the price of a luxury resort or forces you to travel by a small non-AC car despite promising a sedan, his licence can be suspended and he can even be jailed.
To guard both domestic and foreign tourists from getting fleeced by fly-by-night travel agents, Delhi government has made registration of all travel agents and tour operators mandatory in the Capital. Delhi government officials said the tourists will now be able to register complaints against deficiency of services to the tourism department. The penalty not only includes fine if the charges are proved, but the department can also cancel the permit and send the operator to jail.
"It will help us keep a check on fly-by-night tour operators who often dupe tourists. The new rules will also set a benchmark for bigger tour operators who would think twice before providing sub-standard services," said a senior Delhi government official.
According to a conservative estimate there are about 3,500 big and small tour operators, travel and excursion agents operating in Delhi. These operators will not only have to have a proper office space but will also have to mention the contact details of the nodal officer of the transport department along with their email addresses on their letterheads and other papers.
Although the principal secretary of the tourism department is the nodal officer, the new rules have come into effect with the notification of Delhi Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Rules 2011. Rule 81 of the Delhi Motor vehicle Rules deals with tour operators and agents. "We had been pursuing the government for almost five years to make registration of tour operators mandatory. We observed that exploitation of tourists had increased in the past few years. And most outstation tourists felt helpless as there was no mechanism in place to complain against travel agents. We worked in tandem with tourism department to create new rules," said SP Singh, senior fellow and coordinator, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training.