Beleaguered travel agency Air You Go Travels Philippines Company has temporarily shut down its Cebu office as more dissatisfied clients complained about cancelled trips and bookings.
In a Facebook post on September 16, 2019, Air You Go said its office is “temporarily closed” to ensure the safety of its employees, who have also refused to report for work because of death threats.
“We have transferred to a neutral place for us to better assist our Affected Clients,” the agency stated and proceeded to announce the schedule of refunds to clients, which will be held from October 4 to October 25 in four batches.
Complaints against Air You Go, a travel agency known for its affordable tour packages, started when the Avalon Boracay Boutique Hotel, a leased property situated in Station 2 in Boracay, shut down in August amid an internal squabble.
In an official statement on August 21, 2019, Air You Go said the closure of its hotel was a “major setback” and the company has found it “extremely difficult…to find alternative rooms in Boracay to accommodate the allocated budget and time”.
“The operation of our hotel in Boracay was forcibly discontinued; our staffs were prevented to enter the hotel premises and eviction notices were served. The situation escalated beyond our control. It is an incident that we are not able to anticipate. Nevertheless, the company has already taken action in court and it is now pending before the Regional Trial Court of Kalibo, Aklan,” the Air You Go statement read.
The agency clarified, however, that only 2% of their total confirmed clients were affected and that certain clients have received their refunds.
Earlier, the Department of Tourism (DOT) discouraged the public from transacting with the Cebu-based travel agency since it is not accredited and is not authorized to use the DOT logo in any of its marketing collaterals.
“As a matter of policy, only those accredited tourism-related enterprises and establishments are allowed to use/display the DOT Tourism Quality Seal and valid for the duration of the accreditation,” the DOT said.
“Moreover, the unlawful use or misuse of the DOT Official Logo is prohibited. Any perpetrator caught shall be fully dealt with in accordance with our laws,” it added.
The DOT statement noted that investigation by the DOT Office of Tourism Standards and Regulation – Standards Monitoring and Enforcement Division (OTSR-SMED) showed that Air You Go has been “fraudulently using the Official DOT logo in its website www.airyougotravels.com and on its Facebook account - Air You Go Travels Experience.”
“The DOT wishes to clarify that the above-cited enterprise/ establishment is NOT accredited by the DOT,” the department said.
The DOT statement was issued in the wake of complaints from clients over Air You Go’s services.
A newspaper report on September 22 said 30 persons have filed formal complaints for estafa against Air You Go at the Mabolo Police Station in Cebu City.
Air You Go, which started as an online travel agency in December 2011, is known for its travel planning and online booking reservation services aside from its affordable tour packages. (Ventures Cebu)