When a mainland tourist died in Hong Kong recently after being beaten up reportedly by “shadow tourists” who were forcing the tour group to buy at a jewelry shop, many people have asked why China has failed to stop the ultra-low-priced package tours blamed for such incidents over the years.
The illegal practice remains rampant in many Chinese cities, including the capital city.
An undercover reporter from Beijing News joined a one-day Beijing tour being promoted by a travel group for only 80 yuan (US$12.60) inclusive of all expenses.
Participants were promised a sightseeing tour of famous city landmarks, including the Badaling Great Wall, the imperial tombs of the Ming dynasty, the Water Cube (National Aquatics Center) and the Bird’s Nest (Beijing National Stadium) within a day.
The tour operator explained that the tour fee was low because entrance tickets had been bought in bulk.
However, the reporter noted that travelers could only stay in each spot for less than two hours and the tour coach only drove by other city landmarks.
The rest of the day was spent traveling to shopping malls or wandering around shops.
Every member of the tour group had to make purchases, and the reporter noted that on average each tourist bought goods worth more than 500 yuan.
Aside from the tour guide, the group was accompanied by “shadow tourists” who encouraged other members to buy jade products.
One manager of a travel agency admitted that staff earn 5 percent commission from the goods bought by their tour group.
Meanwhile, Apple Daily reported that operators of “zero-fee” travel packages to Hong Kong and Macau usually target clients from Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang as they are known to be fond of shopping and bringing back gifts to relatives and friends.
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