MANILA -- After the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration officially declared the start of summer in the country on Tuesday, the Department of Tourism (DOT) reminded the public anew against bogus travel agencies, which usually offer “too-good-to-be-true” tour packages online.

In a statement Wednesday, DOT Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo said a huge number of Filipinos travel domestically during the summer period.

Based on 2016 statistics released by the DOT, at least 7.6 million Filipinos travelled around the Philippines within months of April and May, with Cebu Province as the top tourist destination.

With this, Teo said the public must consider "WISE" in all their travel plans, an acronym for “Work out your travel plans; Identify tour and travel agencies; See tourism quality seal; and Engage accredited service providers only.”

The DOT launched the “WISE” campaign first quarter of 2017 to help people avoid being scammed by fake travel agencies which are prevalent in social media.

“We are in close coordination with the DOT regional offices to make sure that the list of accredited establishment and services are updated and posted in strategic locations such as airports, terminals, and ports for easy reference,” Teo said.

The Tourism chief advised the public to verify the legitimacy of the travel and tour companies by calling DOT regional offices or by visiting DOT’s database online at accreditationonline.tourism.gov.ph.

Teo said travelers could also gauge the authenticity of the travel agency by checking the tourism quality seal displayed at their offices, websites, and social media accounts.

Meanwhile, she warned all DOT-accredited travel agency found involved in illegal activities would immediately be stripped off of their accreditation.

“Travelers must make sure they choose DOT-accredited facilities and tour services to receive the quality of service and be protected from bogus transactions,” Teo added. (PNA)