Date
29 March 2017
Tour guides not wearing badges and identification tags will not be allowed on tourist buses under tough new rules that take effect in January. The travel agency is fighting back. Photo: Bloomberg
Tour guides not wearing badges and identification tags will not be allowed on tourist buses under tough new rules that take effect in January. The travel agency is fighting back. Photo: Bloomberg

Travel agents fight tighter control by industry body

Tour operators are pushing back against tighter controls on the travel industry that go into force in January.

These include closer monitoring of travel agents, stricter implementation of the 180-day full refund scheme and delisting of registered shops from the Travel Industry Council (TIC).

At present, travel agents are allowed to take tour groups from mainland China to 77 registered shops.

Some of these shops said they are withdrawing from the refund scheme to protest the new regulations. 

Under the new rules, tour guides not wearing badges and identification tags will not be allowed on tourist buses.

And tour operators that fail to comply face cancellation of their operating license. 

The Hong Kong Travel Agent Owners Association is urging industry players to unite against the policy, Apple Daily reports, citing a circular purportedly from its chairman, Lam Siu-lun.

Also, the association is threatening legal action against the TIC, which brought in the new regulations.

Two other industry groups — the Hong Kong Tour Guides General Union and the Hong Kong Tourism Practitioners’ Union — said they will not cooperate with the new ID policy.

The decision was taken to protect the tour guides’ personal information and is in response to complaints that they are often stopped by people claiming to be from the TIC to inspect their identity, they said.

A drivers’ association said their group will no longer display information on travel agents in tour coaches.

Newly elected TIC chairman Jason Wong defended the new policy, saying it is common practice for tour guides to wear badges and for information about travel agents to be displayed in coaches.

He said the 180-day refund protection scheme has worked well, with 90 percent of requests being made within 30 days and only 1 percent after 90 days.

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