Hajj / Umrah Travel Operators and UK Law
By Trading Standards Department
The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 sets out the responsibilities that travel organisers and retailers (Hajj & Umrah tour operators/travel agents) have towards their customers (pilgrims) and what rights consumers have under the legislation.
Before the contract is concluded the Hajj & Umrah tour operators/travel agents must provide the consumer (prospective pilgrims) with the following information in writing or some other appropriate form-
- General information about passport visa requirements
- Information about health formalities
- Security and repatriation arrangements in the event of insolvenc
Before the start of the journey Hajj & Umrah tour operators/travel agents must provide-
- Times and places of stops and transport connections and places to be occupied by the traveller
- Contact details of a local representative or the other party to the contract in the area where the prospective pilgrims are to stay or a local agency if there is no representative
- Information about insurance that the consumer can take out to cover the cost of cancellation, including repatriation in the event of accident or illness (if this is not already required by the contract).
These are legal requirements and if this information is not provided then there may be a criminal offence. Under these Regulations consumers (pilgrims) should contact their local Trading Standards service for further assistance on this matter.
Hajj & Umrah tour operators/travel agents should not supply any misleading or descriptive material to pilgrims regarding the package price or any other conditions applying to the contract. If they do they are liable for any loss which the consumer suffers.
The consumer must be given a written copy of a contract for the package booked. This contract should contain at least the following information-
- Destination and date
- Transport-means, times, dates and places
- Accommodation details
- Visits or other services included
- Details of the Hajj & Umrah tour operators/travel agents and insurer (where appropriate)
- Minimum number of people for package to go ahead and deadline for cancellation
- The price and any term regarding revisions, payment details
- Special requirements of the consumer, period for making complaints.
If the organiser makes significant changes to the contract before the departure the consumer needs to be notified as soon as possible and be able to withdraw form the contract without penalty. Where the consumer withdraws due to significant changes or where the organiser has to cancel the contract the consumer is entitled to-
- A substitute package of equivalent or superior quality if available
- A substitute package of lower quality plus the difference in price if available
- A refund
A consumer may institute a civil case if the above hasn’t been complied with. It is recommended that you contact your local citizens advice service for further guidance on this matter.
Your local Trading Standards authority may consider instituting legal proceedings against the company however consumers must be aware that this does not grant them with any recompense.
Before you book a Hajj & Umrah package it is advisable that you:
Read the company’s Hajj & Umrah package literature carefully. The pilgrimage is covered by many tour operators, so compare prices and check what each company is offering.
It is sensible to get insurance to cover your holiday, including cancellation, illness or injury and loss or theft of your belongings. Make sure you check what the insurance does and does not cover.
Make sure the company is a member of ABTA, AITO, ATOL or IATA. This can be done by going onto the associations’ website and inputting the company’s details. If things do go wrong then you are in a much better position if the company belongs to one of these organisations.