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Matta upset by slow progress in amending Tourism Industry Act
Published on: Thursday, April 27, 2023
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Matta upset by slow progress in amending Tourism Industry Act
Tan urged the tribunal to dismiss any claims involving flight tickets included in travel packages, saying consumers should hold airlines liable for failing to provide refunds and related services rather than travel agents.
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) expressed disappointment over the Government’s lack of progress in amending the Fourth Schedule of the Tourism Industry Act 1992 despite the difficulties faced by travel agencies.

Matta President Tan Kok Liang (pic) said the backlash received by travel agencies over flight grievances demonstrated the inadequacy and outdatedness of the Act.

 “We have reached a point of no return since this issue has been highlighted to multiple tourism ministers over the years without any positive results.

“These ministers will task the secretary-general of the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry to table the necessary amendments, but nothing comes out of it,” Tan said in a statement, Wednesday.

The provision seeks to regulate the terms and conditions in holiday contracts between consumers and tour operators.

Matta has repeatedly called for amendments to the clause in the past.

Last week, the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry said issues pertaining to airline services should be referred to the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) rather than the Tribunal for Consumer Claims (TCC).

The Ministry said Section 99(1)(ca) of the Consumer Protection Act 1999 stated that any dispute involving any airline services was not within the tribunal’s power, effective March 1, 2016.

Tan urged the tribunal to dismiss any claims involving flight tickets included in travel packages, saying consumers should hold airlines liable for failing to provide refunds and related services rather than travel agents.

He pointed out that travel packages were classified as services and were subject to the Consumer Protection Act 1999, though Mavcom has been tasked with managing airline services and complaints.

He cited how travel companies were instructed to reimburse tour fares to consumers during the pandemic, but airlines could use credit payback methods to travel agencies.

“This has created difficulties for our industry players when dealing with airline-related issues in particular, involving unsatisfied customers who continue to file claims with the tribunal. How can we defend ourselves while the airlines are subject to a different set of rules?

“Such rulings have resulted in severe financial ramifications for travel agencies, including the closure of their business,” he said.

Tan suggested that the TCC analyse its past and pending cases in order to reflect the present business situation, and remove tour packages from the merchant category.

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