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Unhappy tourists write open letter

By Ma Lie and Li Yingqing (China Daily)

12:10, May 12, 2012

The tourist administration of Yunnan province is looking into complaints by five tourists who wrote an open letter to a top official complaining about a terrible travel experience in the province.

"The trip gave us nothing but unhappiness and all of us felt afraid, ripped off and disgraced," the tourists said in a letter to Qin Guangrong, secretary of Yunnan provincial committee of the Communist Party of China, via people.com.cn.

Qin has asked the law enforcement team under the tourism administration to investigate.

The five tourists, all retired workers from Xi'an, Shaanxi province, said they joined a nine-day trip organized by Kanghui Yonghua Travel Agency in Kunming, Yunnan province, from April 14 to 23.

The five said they were forced to buy local products at higher prices than in local markets, were led to shops more than to scenic spots, and were insulted and threatened when they did not buy more products that the tourism guides and drivers recommended.

They also expressed their disgust that one female tourist even soiled her pants because the bus driver refused to stop so she could use the toilet.

"The driver was dissatisfied that many of the tourists on his bus did not buy tea in the shop he recommended and found a malicious way to get revenge on the tourists," the letter said.

They said that the seven guides and four bus drivers during the nine-day trip told them that they had no wages and had to earn their living from rebates and commissions from the shops they recommended.

"The main cause of the problem was that some tour guides did not sign labor contracts with local agencies and had no proper wages," the provincial tourism administration said. "This made them try to get commissions by forcing tourists to buy more products in the shops they recommended."

The tourists did commend one driver who was enthusiastic with them and introduced tourist spots on behalf of a guide who took off.

"His behavior gave us some comfort at the end of the trip," the tourists said at the end of their letter.

The tourism administration said that it tries to crack down on behaviors that violate tourism regulations to keep order in the tourism market.

The administration is trying to establish a long-term management mechanism and a proper payment system for the guides. It also plans to provide courses to guides and drivers to improve professional quality.

It also reminded tourists to choose eligible travel agencies and proper routes with reasonable prices, as unfeasibly low prices may lead to poor service.

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