I am a small, successful and independent travel agency and I would like to highlight an incident that has severely affected my one of my clients and my business. In the beginning of September 2011 I made a booking with a seemingly legitimate travel operator in Kenya for an exclusive Beach experience in Mombasa, Kenya for several families .The entire tour cost US$24,000.
I made the booking through Kenya One Tours, who received full payment from my clients in early December 2011.
This January 2012, when my clients tried to check out of Leisure Lodge Beach Resort, they were informed the bill had not been paid. Kenya One Tours never made the payment to the hotel.
My clients called me to help and I immediately arranged an emergency loan to pay the outstanding hotel bill of US$15, 350 out of my own pocket to save my clients from embarrassment and to maintain the integrity of my business and reputation. Had I not been in the position to make these payments my clients would have been stranded.
For the past 12 weeks, I have been unable to get Kenya One Tours to return the money they received for this booking in December 2011, despite contacting them daily / weekly.
I alerted the Kenyan Tourism Ministry as soon as I had heard that the bill had not been paid – in both the Nairobi and Mombasa offices – They found the tour operator and even had the consultant in question in their offices but did not take any action against her. After many calls to Kenya, I feel that they have not taken my complaints seriously and have taken no action against Kenya One Tours or to help return the money to me.
Thankfully, I was able to spare my clients this hassle, but this saga has left me substantially out of pocket and is placing a huge strain on my business operations. While there is not a huge amount that you can do to help me I feel it is only fair that I ask you to highlight these risks to both traveller and travel industry.
What people also need to understand is that Kenyan Tourism is either helpless or not interested in helping you when things really do go wrong.