The Tourism Regulatory Authority is urging potential customers to verify licenses of target tour firms and hotels to avoid fraud.

The Tourism and Regulatory Authority has put on notice rogue tour guides and hotels that have been defrauding unsuspecting tourists.

The move by the sector regulator has been prompted by the existence of unregulated online tour guides and firms that woo potential tourists into paying money only for the companies to pull down their websites and Facebook accounts upon receiving payments.

Further, the watchdog is sending warnings to some hotels and restaurants in Kenya that have been falsely marketing themselves as destinations of a higher rank than they actually are.

“Be warned that the above offenses are punishable by law and can attract at least 12 months’ jail term among other penalties,” TRA said in a statement.

According to the Tourism Act, the TRA evaluates hotels and restaurants against a set criterion before qualifying them as either One, Two, Three, Four, or Five Star.

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Some of the parameters checked are location, the building, front office operations, the hours of service, the lobby, furniture as well as the dining ambience.

Equally put on notice are unlicensed operators of cottages, guest houses, villas, serviced apartments, home stays as well as hotels that market themselves virtually as well as on booking platforms without the requisite permits from the TRA.

“We encourage members of the public to check and demand a TRA license number when seeking tourism and hospitality services including short term rentals,” noted TRA.

The authority plans to open call for applications for classification and grading of hotels and restaurants starting July.

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