Tourists urged: Use only legitimate transport providers
TOURISTS should scrutinize transport providers beyond what they are told by drivers or owners before booking transport services.
Alice Queblatin, president of the Cebu Alliance of Tour Operations Specialists (Catos), said tourists should make sure that transport providers they hire are accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and have the necessary permits from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
“Before they hire, tourists should really ask for the proper documents and licenses by looking at it. They may say they have it, but they really don’t,” she said during yesterday’s 888 Forum.
In order to be really safe, she advised tourists to patronize legitimate tour providers even if they may be pricier than those offered by people who own and drive their own vehicles for tours. This is because legitimate providers have insurance on top of their necessary documents to operate.
There are several tour and transport providers accredited by the proper government agencies, as soon as they arrive at the airport, Queblatin added.
Last Saturday, a van carrying balikbayans crashed into a mahogany tree in Alegria town after the driver fell asleep while driving. The accident killed seven of the passengers and injured three. The driver, Gilbert dela Cruz, who owns and drives his own van for tours, survived the mishap.
The balikbayans were scheduled to do a medical mission in Camiguin but made a stop over in Cebu to go on a tour.
“It’s really very unfortunate, and we are also very sad. This is a wake up call that brings the importance of being mindful of how we run our transport business,” Queblatin said.
She explained that larger transport businesses that are duly credited have several units and drivers who drive in shifts to make sure that they are well rested before they drive tourists to spots in the north and south of Cebu, which usually requires them to leave at dawn.
In a separate interview, newly appointed DOT-7 Regional Director Shahlimar Tamano said they checked on Inner J Tourist Transport, which owned the vehicle that crashed last Saturday.
Based on their records, he said they are not accredited with DOT.
“It was tragic. We wish to commiserate with the family of the victims. For me, the job of the DOT should be done as a whole. That’s why in the next four weeks, we will meet with our counterparts in the LTFRB, LTO, PNP, Armed Forces, DPWH, DOTr, because in many instances, we don’t have power over things like these,” he told CDN in a phone interview.
Meanwhile, Cebu Travel and Tours Association (CTTA) president Alan Carvajal echoed the need to crosscheck the legitimacy of tour operators.
“We have to look first at the safety of our tourists. We don’t want accidents to happen, but that is a result of dealing with non-legitimate tour operators. We should put the safety of our tourist at the forefront,” he said.
Although they expect that the Alegria accident may have a slight negative impact on tours in Cebu, Carvajal pointed out that what happened is an “isolated case.”
He said the tours will still go on especially with legitimate tour providers.
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