People planning to book Hajj pilgrimages this year are being warned against deals that appear to be too good to be true.

The Civil Aviation Authority is working to protect travellers after an increasing trend in the sale of illegal or fake package deals.

In the worst cases, these illegal vendors have been prosecuted and imprisoned.

The regulator is launching a campaign to ensure that this often once in a lifetime trip is not scuppered by booking through a disreputable company, or those falsely posing as reputable travel agents.

More than 25,000 British Muslims expected to make the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia in August.

They are being urged to do their research and to only use trustworthy and reputable companies that provide Atol protection.

CAA director Paul Smith said: “As we enter the busy booking period for Hajj travel, we are reminding consumers to research who they are planning to book with to ensure their important trip is protected.

“Using a recommended travel agent is helpful, but it is vital to check that your provider is Atol protected despite any recommendation you may receive.”

The CAA issued five Hajj travel tips:

1. Check for Atol protection: Look for the ATOL logo on your travel company’s website, brochure or shop front.

2. Research your trip: Some companies will incorrectly claim to have Atol protection. Check the company’s name on the online database at: packpeaceofmind.co.uk

3. Check if your package includes a visa: Appoint a licensed travel agent and ensure that they are arranging a visa as part of your arrangements.

4. Watch out for hidden costs: Make sure you check the airport and accommodation fees, such as baggage allowance and accommodation transfers, to avoid any surprises.

5. Check financial protection if booking with non-UK travel companies: There are some non-UK travel companies which offer Hajj travel to UK consumers, but these will often not be Atol protected. Do your research and check what financial protection they provide.

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