Travel companies from the mainland are at it again.
After a sharp fall in related incidents, mainland tour operators are again skirting a Hong Kong ban on forced shopping, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Friday, citing its own investigation.
Last month, the number of incidents rose to 500 involving a daily average of 400 tour groups, after the figure fell 60 percent to 120 in October when authorities clamped down on the practice.
The shopping expeditions were advertised by operators as incentive tours through insurance agents and marketing companies, the report said.
The tourists were then taken to shops and forced to make purchases.
In some instances, they were given cash coupons to entice them to visit a shop and create the appearance they were making purchases voluntarily.
A tourist from Jilin province said his group was taken to a jewelry shop where they spent a combined HK$100,000 (US$12,898) before they could even eat.
Some groups were brought to shops near tourist areas to serve the dual purpose of shopping and tourism. Some were brought in individually across the border and later assembled as a group to take advantage of loopholes in the ban.
A snack shop owner who mainly serves mainland travelers said the number of tourists who visited nearby stores on Thursday, the first day of the May Day weekend, had risen about 70 to 80 percent since the ban began.
However, certain shopkeepers said such activities were fewer this year because of the shorter holiday and as a result of weaker tourist appetite for spending.
A drug store manager said the average purchase by mainlanders fell to HK$300 from up to HK$1,000 previoulsy, possibly due to a slowing economy, the report said.
Lau Hak Bun, sales director of jeweler Chow Sang Sang Holdings International Ltd. (00116.HK) said the number of customers on May Day barely matched that on an ordinary weekend.
Last year’s sales were mainly driven by a holiday gold rush, Lau was quoted as saying.
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