Hong Kong travel agents have reported 23 instances of tourists not paying the required service charges or giving tips after the consumer watchdog said such payments are voluntary.
The growing practice has resulted in a significant loss of income for the agents, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Thursday.
In June, the Consumer Council said travel agents should inform their clients about the voluntary nature of service charges shown on published rates which are for reference only. Tips are at the client’s discretion.
The reminder came after a survey by the Consumer Council on outbound tours.
Travel guides receive a monthly basic salary of HK$2,000 (US$258) and rely on service charges to boost their income. All in, most make about HK$10,000 a month, a spokesman for the Hong Kong Tourism Industry Employees General Union was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the union is asking the Travel Industry Council to include service charges in the price of a tour package in order to protect the interests of the 20,000-strong tour guide industry.
Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung said a cap on service charges might be in violation of an upcoming competition law, the report said.
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