Press team

With 25,000 pilgrims estimated to be heading overseas to Saudi Arabia from the UK for Hajj in the next few days and spending up to £125 million on their travel arrangements,* ABTA is warning all visitors about the dangers of booking with fraudulent or disreputable travel companies. Every year sees individuals paying for travel arrangements that are sub-standard, or in the worst cases, non-existent, leaving victims out of pocket by thousands of pounds.

This year, Hajj takes place between 9 and 14 September. With large sums being paid for specialist Hajj flights and accommodation arrangements, pilgrims need to be aware of the dangers of booking with disreputable travel companies.

ABTA recommends the following simple steps to minimise the risk of being the victim of fraud:

  • Do your research – Don’t book without carrying out some basic checks on your travel company.
  • Make sure your travel company is a member of a recognised trade body, such as ABTA – The Travel Association, whose Members follow a strict code of conduct and who financially protect package holidays.
  • If you are booking a flight based package, make sure your travel company is ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority, and that you receive an ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licence) certificate as soon as you exchange money.
  • Get everything in writing.
  • Do not pay the travel company by cash or by direct bank transfer into an individual’s account.

John de Vial, ABTA’s Director of Financial Protection, said: “Every year, fraudsters target pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj. Large sums of money can be at stake as flights and accommodation are at a premium due to massive demand. Fraudsters play on the fact that pilgrims are often not aware of the strict regulations in place governing the sale of package travel arrangements in the UK. In other cases, even when travel arrangements are provided, they are of a much lower standard than promised and in the worst cases the arrangements simply do not exist and pilgrims are left with no course of redress.”

Pilgrims are encouraged to check on www.abta.com or with the CAA on 020 7453 6700 if the company they are booking with is ABTA or ATOL protected.

Victims of Hajj fraud should report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk Further information is available from the City of London Police’s National Fraud Awareness campaign. 

About ABTA

ABTA has been a trusted travel brand for over 65 years. Our purpose is to help our Members to grow their businesses successfully and sustainably, and to help their customers travel with confidence.

The ABTA brand stands for support, protection and expertise. This means consumers have confidence in ABTA and a strong trust in ABTA Members. These qualities are core to us as they ensure that holidaymakers remain confident in the holiday products that they buy from our Members.

We help our Members and their customers navigate through today's changing travel landscape by raising standards in the industry; offering schemes of financial protection; providing an independent complaints resolution service should something go wrong; giving guidance on issues from sustainability to health and safety and by presenting a united voice to government to ensure the industry and the public get a fair deal.

ABTA currently has around 1,200 Members, with a combined annual UK turnover of £33.07 billion. For more details about what we do, what being an ABTA Member or Partner means, and how we help the British public travel with confidence visit www.abta.com. 

*City of London Police