WHILE hearing a case recently, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has ruled in favour of a private tour operator, who cancelled an Egypt tour due to the political turmoil in the country.
Twenty tourists, who had bought a package tour of three countries -Greece, Turkey and Egypt- had approached the Mumbai forum seeking compensation and adequate refund after Kesari Tours cancelled a visit to Egypt in 2013.
The complainants had alleged that they had booked the tour to Greece, Turkey and Egypt between September 23 and October 5, 2013, in October 2012 and that the net cost for the tour, with taxes, varied between Rs 2.29 and 2.40 lakhs per person.
Kesari Tours had completed all visa formalities and visas for Egypt were issued in August 2013. The complainants stated before the forum that they got to know that the Egypt tour was cancelled and that they will be refunded a certain amount only 48 hours before the trip was about to start.
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“The refund amount was less than 6 per cent of the total tour cost, though 1/3rd part of the tour was cancelled,” a complaint said. It further said that they were informed that if they wanted to cancel the tour, it would mean incurring further cancellation charges of Rs 56000 per person.
After the tourists protested, the tour operator refunded them Rs 11,900, that included the money paid for the visa fee to Egypt.
The complainants alleged that they were ‘compelled’ to join in for the Greece and Turkey tour, and on their return, when they demanded for further refund, they were given Rs 20,000 per person.
Twenty people – who were of the tour – have sought a total of Rs 35,100 per person with interest as well as Rs 50,000 as compensation and litigation costs.
While one of the complaints said the decision to cancel the trip was taken by the tour operators unilaterally without consulting them, the tour operation told the forum, “At the time of booking the tour, there was no problem in Egypt but later on there was political turmoil and it was not safe to travel in Egypt. Considering safety of tourists, Egypt tour was cancelled and it was informed to all members.”
“It is the case of the opponent (Kesari Tours) that considering political unrest in Egypt, it was not safe for the tourist in Egypt (sic). Therefore, decision was taken by the opponent. The opponent has produced evidence on record showing unrest in Egypt. Considering this evidence on record, we think opponent has rightly taken decision about cancellation of Egypt tour. We do not find any illegality in the decision of the opponent,” the forum said while dismissing the complaint.
In June 2013, mass protests had occurred in Egypt with citizens demanding resignation of then President Mohamed Morsi. Thousands of protesters had gathered at Tahrir Square in capital Cairo with several deaths reported due to the resulting clashes.