China’s tourism authorities warned citizens that they may be held liable for joining tours that charge unreasonably low prices.
The China National Tourism Administration issued the warning in the wake of the death of a mainland tourist who was beaten up after he tried to mediate in a quarrel between a female mainland tourist and a tour guide who berated her for not making any purchase at a jewelry shop in Hong Kong last week.
The CNTA said tour operators of dirt-cheap holidays take advantage of the allure of discounts and gain by taking tourists to participating shops where they are forced to buy goods.
While warning tourists against such traps, the tourism watchdog said they also have to bear the legal consequences if they sign fake contracts with travel agencies charging unreasonably low fees.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board welcomed CNTA’s move, saying it will help curb illegal operations of unscrupulous travel agencies, Apple Daily reported on Monday.
The CNTA has suggested that a hotline be set up for the public to report incidents of tourism-related shenanigans, as well as a reward system to encourage the public to report such cases.
At a public forum held on Sunday, legislator James Tien Pei-chun, former chairman of Hong Kong Tourism Board, questioned the effectiveness of the mainland move, saying such warnings proved ineffective in the past.
He said authorities should take one step further by asking travel agencies to disclose the costs and prices of their tour packages.
Tien also called for the establishment of a supervisory body for the travel industry in Hong Kong, as the government proposed in 2011.
Speaking at a television program, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung said the government has been pushing for such a supervisory body and a draft legislation will soon be submitted to the Legco.
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