‘Be wary of schemes exploiting virus crisis’

Lee Hayhurst T

ravel agents have been warned about get-rich-quick schemes promising “untold riches” from selling holidays during the coronavirus downturn.

The warning came after Travel Weekly forwarded

an unsolicited email to Abta from Indian tour operator Culture Holidays, which describes the current crisis as an “opportunity”. The Culture Holidays email, entitled ‘Turn

Recession into Progression’, encourages agents to join and states: “The travel industry is the most affected by coronavirus. Thousands of people will lose jobs in the travel industry. Many travel agencies will shut down. Inspite of the above there is an OPPORTUNITY and it’s a GREAT one.” The email urges registered agents to join its

‘Quantum Leap’ programme which promises a “new opportunity to acquire great wealth” without any investment or extra effort. Travel Weekly contacted

Culture Holidays, which said it is a member of the Indian Association of Tour Operators and approved by the Indian government. Its website states that it has 968 “connected agents” worldwide. The firm encourages agents

to recruit chains of sellers, saying they can earn $100 for every


three people they book, and $100 for every three people those agents book, and so on. It claims in a five-tier chain the first agent could earn $36,400. Rajni Pandey, manager for international

partnerships, said: “We understand that due to coronavirus our travel industry is suffering a lot and so are travel agents, that’s why we have come up with this special offer which is an opportunity in the current scenario.” Abta advised caution. Steve Abrahamson, the

association’s head of risk management, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the best in many people but unfortunately it also offers an environment for those that wish to manipulate the situation for their own gain. “Unsolicited emails, particularly ones offering

untold riches, should be treated with great caution. The old adage ‘if it looks too good to be true’ may be a cliché but is quite often accurate and can be a handy guide to avoid being caught out.” Pandey said Culture Holidays was not involved in any scam activities, adding: “Sometimes things don’t seem possible unless it is achieved.” He highlighted its positive

TripAdvisor reviews and YouTube testimonials. The operator’s chief executive

India-based Culture Holidays is promoting a scheme that pays agents to recruit further agents

is Sanjay Bhasin, author of upcoming book Secrets of the Millionaire Travel Agent.

Media coverag Lucy Huxley N

Thursday, April 16 O


Azamara president and CEO Larry Pimentel voluntarily steps down from role as parent firm Royal Caribbean Cruises cuts US workforce by a quarter


US trade show IPW, due to take place in Las Vegas from May 30 to June 3, is cancelled


Jet2holidays releases full summer 2021 programme

Etihad reveals reduced post-Covid schedule from May 1 O Saga defers all holidays to June 1

Friday, April 17 O

Manchester Airports Group reveals March passenger numbers halved


ational media coverage of the cruise sector during the coronavirus crisis has been “appalling” and “objectionable” but industry bosses predict the sector will bounce back.

Speaking in a Travel Weekly webcast, Silversea Cruises’

Peter Shanks said some articles by journalists who don’t cover cruise regularly “has been appalling, objectionable, not fair and unreasonable”. Shanks, the line’s managing director for the UK and

EMEA, added: “It’s up to us to overcome that. It’s been interesting to see comments from our regular customers who have jumped to the cruise industry’s defence.” Princess Cruises has been at the forefront of the

challenge, with Diamond Princess one of the first ships to suffer a high-profile outbreak of the virus, and Ruby Princess under police investigation in Australia. Tony Roberts, vice-president for the UK and Europe,

said: “It’s unfortunate that cruise seems to have been singled out. It’s seen as really being at the heart of this.

Ruby Princess; inset, Arnold Donald

Transport secretary Grant Shapps says “I won’t be booking a summer holiday” on BBC Radio 4. Abta and Aito slam his “thoughtless comment”


Advantage launches #BucketList Reboot campaign with poll to determine customer sentiment


Government extends furlough scheme by a month


Tui offers 20% bonus to customers on rebookings

Saturday, April 18 O

G Adventures confirms sales boss Tom Bell among seven redundancies in the UK


Discover Egypt tells trade it will survive pandemic


23 APRIL 2020

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