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Draft law 'to ensure tourists get a better deal'

By Tan Zongyang  (China Daily)

13:31, August 28, 2012

Unscrupulous travel agents targeted in proposed legislation

A draft law on tourism, targeting sharp practices by travel agents and clearly stating the rights of travelers, was under review by lawmakers on Monday.

The draft, if passed, will be the first legislation covering the industry.

"There is an urgent need for this law to promote the healthy and sustainable development of tourism," Yin Zhongqing, deputy director of the financial and economic affairs committee of the National People's Congress, said on Monday.

The congress is China's top legislature.

The draft law sets operating standards for travel businesses and scenic areas, and prohibits travel agencies from forcing tourists to purchase goods.

Tipping will be at the discretion of the tourist, it states.

The draft targets agencies offering so-called free tours, or even incentive tours, where the traveler is given a small amount of cash or a gift.

These tours operate on a kickback system. Tourists are taken to shops at pre-determined sites where goods are often sold at inflated prices, and the agency gets a kickback.

Yin said tourism faced "relatively severe" challenges.

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