Travellers’ dreams dashed after agency cancels Maldives holiday, allegedly vanishes with monies

A dream holiday to the Maldives has been dashed for a Durban couple who are among many whose trips have been cancelled. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

A dream holiday to the Maldives has been dashed for a Durban couple who are among many whose trips have been cancelled. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 14, 2023


Travel agency, Priority Escapes, has come under scrutiny after it allegedly scammed families out of hundreds of thousands of Rands after cancelling a holiday to the Maldives.

In an email to clients, Priority Escapes managing director Francois Swart said the agency was unable to meet its financial obligations.

"We have had no option other than to cease trading with immediate effect,” the email sent to customers read.

“This unfortunately will have an effect on your upcoming holiday to the Maldives which is not able to take place. We are doing everything possible for the clients affected by this and will communicate with you again in due course.”

There was no word on when or if people would be paid back their monies.

Speaking to IOL, a Durban couple revealed how they paid R63,046.95 for a holiday to the Maldives in September.

A woman, who asked not to be named, said in May, she and her husband paid for their holiday in full. The couple, who live in Dubai, opted to fly directly from Dubai to the Maldives, which Priority Escapes agreed to.

"We planned out holiday for my birthday in September and made the booking in May. I went online and saw many good reviews and there were lots of celebrities who were promoting it, so we made the booking in May and paid for the accommodation for five nights.

“We were sorting flights on our own because it was cheaper to travel from Dubai. In order to get the booking, they said they needed the payment upfront. I paid just under R64,000 so the booking was made to Priority Escapes,” she said.

She said she was sent a confirmation booking email with travel vouchers and transfer details.

The woman said she was excited about the upcoming trip.

"I got a call from the agent at Priority Escapes on August 8 and he wanted information about my flight details. I asked if everything was okay and he reassured me that it was fine. He asked for the flight details so he can let the resort know about picking us up at the airport," she said.

The woman said she then received an email from Swart, saying that they are no longer operating and that the holiday was cancelled.

"There was no word on whether we would get our money back. When I got the email, I was in shock," she said.

Other irate people have taken to social media to share their experiences.

Another client, Pamela-anne Dolan, shared on Facebook that she also paid for a holiday and received notice that the holiday was cancelled.

"We are among others that paid for a holiday and received notice yesterday that the business has closed and sorry no holiday. We booked and paid for it last year for our Maldives holiday (in) October this year. We phoned the resorts and they said the booking was made, but no payment, not even a deposit so we either pay them directly again or loose the holiday," Dolan said.

Priority Escapes has since taken down their website and social media and calls to their offices go to an automatic answering machine.