Mossel Bay Tourism has urged visitors to use recognised booking engines when making online reservations for accommodation, due to a number of con artists posting pictures of houses supposedly for rent on general interest sites.
"We've had a few cases in which people have booked on the Net, only to arrive in Mossel Bay to find that they've been conned," said Mossel Bay Tourism's Marcia Holm.
She said that con artists tend to use general interest sites where anything and everything can be bought or sold.
"They put up pictures of the houses that they're supposed to be renting out and then, typically, manage to get unsuspecting users to pay them - often in full - for their holiday accommodation. And then the visitors get here and they haven't actually got anywhere to stay.
Use dedicated reservations sites
"This is why, if you're going to book your accommodation online, it's best to use dedicated reservations sites that offer real-time bookings.
"As accommodation providers have to pay for their presence on these sites - and because these sites are directly linked to each property's reservations management system - you're assured that you're dealing with a legitimate organisation."
Holm said that Mossel Bay Tourism's web site - www.visitmosselbay.co.za - has recently been integrated with South Africa's popular NightsBridge booking engine.
"This means that users can now book directly with those of our members who are signed up with NightsBridge."
Additionally, she said, all the accommodation and attractions listed on visitmosselbay have been vetted by Mossel Bay Tourism.
Check property listings
"You can also make sure that you're dealing with a legitimate service provider by checking whether their property is listed with the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, or with one of the better-known private quality-assurance programmes - or even by checking for reviews on TripAdvisor."
Mossel Bay, she said, is unique because it offers seafront accommodation across every sector of the budget spectrum - from camping or caravan sites to self-catering houses and apartments, and to B&Bs and luxury hotels and guest houses.
"But we also have a wide variety of places inland and in the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains - so there really is a place for everyone here. As long as you book via legitimate channels."
For more information, go to www.visitmosselbay.co.za/sleep