A PRIVATE tourism stakeholder has advised the public to choose legitimate travel agencies when booking flights and travel arrangements.

Pia Partoza Montano, a travel agency owner and the Davao Tourism Association Vice-President for the Travel and Tours Sector, said a legitimate travel agency can help clients when they encounter problems during their flights, particularly during the January 1 Philippine airspace shutdown which affected the country’s air traffic.

“If the affected airline passenger has a partner travel agent, call them. They can help you. They have your booking in their system. They will be the ones to contact the airline on how to rebook,” Montano said.

Though they cannot do it as quickly as you would want to as there are also people in the system, the burden of rebooking is on them.

Montano said it is important that when individuals decide to get a travel agent for their trips, they must do research on that travel agency. The agencies must be licensed and legitimate with a physical office.

“Number one kung meron ka suki na travel agent mas maganda yun kasi kilala mo na, you have already established a working relationship with that office. They are also selling cheaper airline tickets online so the burden of doing the research lies on the passenger,” Montano said.

Montano said the City Government, particularly the City Tourism Operations Office, has been trying to crack down on fly-by-night travel agencies but it is easy to open an unlicensed travel agency through social media.

“If that agency is purely online, without a physical office, that is the problem because you don’t have an address to go to when they are not responding to your messages online,” Montano said.

She advised the public to check with the Department of Tourism or the City Tourism Operations Office if these agencies are accredited and licensed to do business before transacting with them.

Meanwhile, the Davao City Tourism Operations Office has advised tourism establishments which include travel agencies that the renewal of certificates is available at Sangguniang Panlungsod and Almendras Gym.

Establishments are required to bring the necessary requirements and documents upon submission.

Online requirements and application form may be accessed at: https://tourism.davaocity.gov.ph/explore/

They can renew online through this email: tourism.licensing@gmail.com. PIA-DAVAO