Vol.19 No.0423
Tuesday Edition, April 23, 2019 Second news page
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Destinos TV was ordered to suspend the commercialization of holiday contracts that imply the future execution of services and that they do not have the authorization of the Ministry of Economy / Photo published by tourists on Destinos Facebook page.


Travel agency had no authorization to sell
tourism plans, said Ministry of Economy


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
 

The Ministry of Economy, regarding recent breaches by Destinos TV in the sale of tourist packages to
Oasis hotel* in Cancun, confirmed that the company "does not have authorization from the Ministry, for the sale of tourist plans for the term."

Since June of last year, the Ministry had "denounced to the National Consumer Commission, through the Department of Education and Term Sales, the company for selling public and generalized tour packages without authorization."

However, the National Consumer Commission does not have the authority to temporarily close a company that repeatedly violates or sells tourism plans without authorization, the Ministry said in its statement.

According to the National Consumer Commission, since November 2018, a precautionary measure was in place in which Destinos TV was ordered, " to suspend the commercialization of holiday contracts that imply the future execution of services and that they do not have the authorization of the Ministry of Economy, as well as suspend immediately any advertising activity in any communication medium aimed at offering such contracts or making them known to consumers.”

Notification of this precautionary measure was delivered to the travel agency in November 2018.

Given the travel agency's refusal to comply with the precautionary measure, the Ministry announced that it is in the process of imposing the following sanctions:

- Fine that could be equivalent between 10 to 40 basic salaries fine rate. That could be a fine between $7,800 up to $31,434.

The basic salary fine rate is the amount for public employees, which is used as the base to calculate the fee. A base salary fine is approximately ¢466,200 colones (about $785.85).

- The judicial execution for the collection of the fine.

- Possible complaint to the Public Ministry for the crime of disobedience to the authority.

In addition, the Ministry confirms that it has no jurisdiction to provide compensation for damages (material or moral), which could have been caused by the failure of the trip to
Oasis hotel* in Cancún, by Destinos TV.

The specialists of the Ministry advise people affected by the total non-compliance in the Cancún trip that they have the right to the refund of the total amount paid, and they can lodge the complaint at the offices of the National Consumer Commission

According to Article 19 of the Costa Rican Code of Civil Procedure, complaints about damages caused by the non-fulfillment of the contract with the travel agency can be made individually or collectively, through organized groups such as consumer organizations.

The specialists of the Ministry call on people to buy vacation packages through a verified web page. Authorized providers can be found at www.consumo.go.cr.

In addition, it is recommended that tourists always ask for official documents that prove the hotel reservation, air tickets, and contracts that support the tourist package and the invoice with the total description of the package.

Regarding the controversies of the agency, José Cortés, general manager of Destinos TV, at a press conference, said that the problems with the trip to Cancun, were caused by airline changes after air accidents, so 100 percent of flights could not be met.

"As you have learned, during the last weeks due to the recent plane crashes, very drastic measures have been taken towards the airlines in order to protect the integrity of the passengers"

According to Cortés, the delay in the flight back to Costa Rica of 180 tourists who traveled to Cancun during Holy Week was the fault of "The Mexican Aviation Authority is checking that each crew has the necessary rest hours and 28 airlines, among them several Latin Americans, have had to stop operating an airplane model of a brand known by all of you".

The travel agency  had been reported on social networks last week for not having complied with the accommodation agreement of  tourists who traveled to Cancun for Easter, announced that the return to Costa Rica, which was scheduled for Sunday will be one day late.  The tourists arrived Monday night.

Mr. Cortés, said
to the tourists in a statement, "Unfortunately this situation has caused a wave of consequences, including cancellations of future trips that make it impossible to maintain the continuous operation of Easter and subsequent flights."

Regarding the reason for the delay in the return to the country, the travel agency said that "'SHY AVIATION' flight operator has informed us that the flight originally scheduled for return on April 21 will be rescheduled for Monday 22 in the evening hours. That additional day will compensate for the waiting time prior to accessing the rooms."

Regarding the additional expense that tourists must pay for an extra hotel night, the agency confirmed that they would assume that cost, "Naturally we will assume the hotel costs until they check out on the 22nd. We ask (to the tourist) that on Monday do not make distant trips since between 6 to 7 p.m., we have planned the transfer to the airport and we thank them for their patience and understanding," said the agency on its statement. "In addition, two representatives from the agency traveled to Cancun to help tourists with pertinent information to re-program and support them with what they require."

On April 17, a group of 180 tourists, mostly Costa Ricans, reported on social networks and local TV channels, that they had been being tricked into a vacation package to Cancun by the travel agency.

According to complaints, tourists had purchased a package that included plane tickets, transfers, and accommodations at the hotel located in Cancun, from Thursday to Sunday.

On arriving at the hotel on Thursday, they were informed that the reservations had not been made and that they could not stay at the hotel. Tourists' report they had to wait more than six hours in the street until they received a response from the travel agency.

The travel agency replied in a press release confirmed the transfer of tourists. "Today (Wednesday), in the early hours of the morning, 180 passengers boarded the San Jose-Cancun flight at the Juan Santamaría airport at 2:55 am, scheduled flight time on the Viva Aerobus airline, to Mexican company with which destinations TV operates more than 100 flights a year on time. Passengers arrived at 5:25 am local time in Cancun, and then they were transferred to the hotel and at 6:30 am they arrived at the Oasis hotel," said the agency on its statement.

According to the agency, the problem with the lodging was because when they arrived in Cancun at the Hotel of the Oasis Chain, they (the hotel) could not deliver the rooms when the passengers arrived because they were not ready at that time. “It is an operational issue for groups leaving at that same time."

The agency said that the delay was due to the high season but that all 180 tourists had already been settled in their respective rooms. "The involuntary high season delays in airlines and hotels are normal, although logically they create inconveniences among passengers due to the high flow of income. At the time of entry was the hotel manager and only received a response from reception staff, at local time in Costa Rica all passengers have received their respective rooms."

However, on social networks, tourists denied what was said by the travel agency and confirmed that many people had to pay for accommodations in another hotel.

This is the second case in ten months in which the company caused controversy by breaching the terms of travel packages that it sells to tourists.

On June 2018, a group of 300 tourists had purchased World Cup trips to Russia were left stuck at the Juan Santamaría airport.

The charter flight supposed to transport 300 Costa Ricans was canceled by the agency. The company said that the provider did not comply with the contract.

"The responsibility is 100 percent mine for making the decision to operate with another company different from the ones used at other times," Mr. Cortés in a press release.

The company said that a few days after signing the contract for a plan to leave Thursday and return on June 28, the provider changed the rules, offering alternatives on smaller planes and higher costs.

"Nine days ago I started receiving information that the provider had problems with the offered plans," said Cortés.

In that case, some of the tourists were sent to Russia on commercial flights but some others asked for their money back.

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Have you ever heard about complaints about travel packages?
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