Avoid Vacation Ripoffs With Travel Tips From Ontario Government

    Advice Can Help Travellers Avoid Getting Tripped Up On Vacation

    QUEEN'S PARK, ON, March 12 /CNW/ - At the peak of the winter vacation
season, the Ontario government is helping consumers avoid being taken for a
ride by providing important information and timely travel advice, said
Government Services Minister Gerry Phillips today.
    "Vacations should be lifelong memories in the making, not headaches and
disappointment," said Phillips. "Being a smart consumer and asking the right
questions can make all the difference between relaxation and regret."
    Ontarians spend more than $7 billion on services with registered travel
agents each year. These easy-to-follow tips can help consumers avoid a wide
range of problems:

    1.  Shop smart: Book with a registered Ontario travel agent. Travel
        agents and wholesalers in Ontario must be registered with the Travel
        Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) and follow strict rules.

    2.  Be prepared: Always verify the travel documents you will need, take
        only what's necessary and keep them safe. Travellers flying into the
        United States now need a valid passport.

    3.  Protect your identity: Make two copies of all travel and identity
        documents in case they are lost or stolen. Take one with you and
        leave one in a secure location at home. Remember to destroy the
        copies when you return home.

    4.  Be aware: Make sure you understand what's being offered. Take into
        account prices as well as the terms and conditions of your
        reservation, including refund policies and any penalties. Some travel
        agents charge a non-refundable travel-counselling fee. Find out if
        your travel agent does.

    5.  Get it in writing: Before you buy, always get a written confirmation
        with all the details of your trip.

    6.  Take precautions: Always consider buying cancellation and
        out-of-province health insurance. Ask your registered travel agent
        for details.

    7.  Avoid ripoffs: If travelling by car, have it tuned up before you go.
        If your car needs repairs, get a written estimate before you
        authorize the work to be done. If you're renting a car, check the
        details of the rental agreement before you sign a contract.

    8.  Timeshare beware: Be careful of timeshare offers - if the deal is
        "good today only," walk away.

    9.  Emergency know-how: Keep on hand the telephone numbers for police,
        medical services and embassies or consulates in areas you're going to
        be visiting.

    10. Vacationing at home: Check out Ontario Tourism at
        www.ontariotravel.net for great ideas on stay-at-home vacations.

    Consumers can check if a travel agency is registered and learn more about
making smart travel decisions by calling TICO or visiting its website. The
council helps consumers resolve problems with registered travel agencies and
wholesalers on behalf of the government.
    "Consumers making holiday arrangements have a choice," said TICO
President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Pepper. "They can book through a
registered travel agent who must comply with consumer protection provisions or
take their chances with someone else."

    For more information about consumer rights, call the ministry at
416-326-8800 in Toronto, or toll free at 1-800-889-9768 and visit the website
at www.ontario.ca/consumerprotection. For information on the Travel Industry
Council of Ontario call 1-888-451-TICO or visit the website at www.tico.on.ca.

    Disponible en français

For further information:

For further information: Paul de Zara, Minister's Office, (416) 327-3072
- office, (647) 388-9671 - cell; Ciaran Ganley, Communications Branch, (416)

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