Mainland minds HK tourist scams

08:05, August 02, 2010      

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The mainland and Hong Kong governments have decided to join hands to better administer the tourism industry in the wake of several "forced shopping" scandals in the special administrative region.

Both sides reached five agreements to boost communication and cooperation after a meeting on Saturday in Beijing.

Shao Qiwei, director of the National Tourism Administration, said on Saturday that "zero or low-fee tours" are unfair competition practices in the travel market.

He said mainland authorities would promptly deal with such violations and may impose heavy fines or even revoke the licenses of agencies in cases of serious violations.

The remarks were made after a spate of complaints from mainland tourists involving in "zero or low-fee tours" to Hong Kong.

Companies offering cheap tour packages sometimes increase profits by taking tourists to shops which return a percentage of the sales revenue back to the tourism agency.

A video clip was exposed online last month, in which a Hong Kong tourist guide, nicknamed Ah Zhen, was filmed calling the mainlanders "cheapskates" for not shopping enough, and threatening to lock them out of their hotel rooms.

The clip caused widespread public attention and the guide made a public apology last Tuesday.

On May 22, Chen Youming, a mainland tourist to Hong Kong and a retired national table tennis player, died from a heart attack after quarrelling with a tour guide who allegedly refused to let him leave a jewelry shop.

But Shao also reminded tourists that there is no free lunch. "Travel is to buy services from the market. If you don't pay, or pay a little, it's impossible to get very good services," he said.

Rita Lau, Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, who headed a delegation to Beijing , said Hong Kong was considering using regulation to improve tour guides' conduct.

Forced shopping violates the regulations of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, Lau said.

Source: China Daily- Xinhua


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