Unethical Travel Agents : Curse on Indian Tourism Industry

August 22, 2009

I have been working as the TL for IT section of an Canadian travel chain. I learn new things about great destinations, cultures and people every day. I have not seen the world by I know lots about international and Indian destinations. I like the travel field.

Today I would like to share with you some of my experiences in Travel Industry which are not some thing I cherish. Let me introduce you to a particular travel outlet in New Delhi , right next to our India office where I work. This company does not have a name. They are called “Tourist Information Office”. That sounds like a government undertaking, right? So here starts a series of malpractices and negative marketing strategies to dupe foreign travelers to India . This company, “tourist information office”, has its goons, or executives as they prefer to call them, roaming the city scouting for foreign tourists. They have some attractive schemes for Auto Rickshaw drivers and cabbies. Any one who brings them a, scapegoat (read client) gets a commission. In the office expert goons brainwash and convince foreigners to buy tour packages or accommodation or transport at exorbitant rates. We call such people “Lapkas” or “Grabbers” and their practice is referred to as the “Lapka Trade”.

Unethical Travel Agents Harassing foreign tourists in India
Unethical Travel Agents Harassing foreign tourists in India

Here is their typical modus operandi. In case you are not so familiar with such tricks and are planning a trip to India I hope this information will help you. You would save a lot more than just money.
I did mention the goons (Lapkas) who prowl the city looking for scapegoats(clients). Now these goons/guide/travel-gurus whatever avatar they may be in are pure idiots with barely some education and absolutely no ethics. They have a typical way of dressing that they feel is kool. It is a characteristic tight fighting dressing, a stylish (read weird) haircut, goatees and outrageous side burns, some imitation chains and bracelets and similar other accessories. Some of them are fluent speakers though most can just manage to string sentences in English together. Once in a restaurant one such guide asked me to help him find “Khajuraho” on the guests guidebook.

Loitering around , they would be keenly watching public spaces like Railway Stations, Restaurants, Markets etc. Once they see a non Indian guy or couple or group they would just pretend to be walking casually alongside them for some time or they will cross from behind and then double back before exchanging some greetings. “Hello Mam”, “Hi Friends”, “Hey dude” what ever they have mugged up. They start asking all shorts of question about your lodging, travel, places of interest with an occasional praise for your country or your shoes or hair style. One way of identifying such a Lapka from the conversation is to start some intellectual discussion. This gets them impatient and they would probably tell you that they can take you to a travel information office for more information. This is nothing but the Lapka headquarter where they are waiting for scapegoats like you. If you have already booked your hotel then these travel goons will remark bluntly that you have made a wrong choice and you should change the hotel immediately.

If you get into the trap and reach the “Lapka head quarters” I don’t think any one can help you further. They would sell you tour packages at exorbitant rates and force destinations upon you. You would completely forget your travel plans and end up wasting a lot of hard earned cash. I see them abusing tourists in open. Even though you would be sitting right next to them they would be talking ill and disrespectful of their guests in their local dialect. I warn ladies especially to be alert and avoid such people as you could be looted off more than money.

I hate such people as they bring shame to the nation and ill reputation to our business. There are quite a few of them in popular travel destinations across. We follow the principle of “Athithi Devo Bhava” that means “Guest is God” and such unethical practices are a disgrace to our motto. If you share the great Indian spirit and want to help spread the message then share or email this article.

Image Credits:
www.annonline.com/delhi-travel-guide/gifs/cannught-place.jpg and mooncostumes.com


  1. dear Sir,
    Your views on lapacas(cheaters) r correct.
    plz call me, i m journalist with amar Ujala group.

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Rooturaj Pattanaik

Technology & Business Consultant with customers across 6 countries. A doting father and loving husband writing about various topics like Technology, Travel, Society, Digital marketing, Investment consulting etc.


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