27 October 2016
Tourism industry workers are urging authorities to rethink some of the new rules pertaining to the sector. Photo: RTHK
Tourism industry workers are urging authorities to rethink some of the new rules pertaining to the sector. Photo: RTHK

Travel industry workers protest new rules; TIC chief under fire

Hundreds of tourism workers joined a march Tuesday to protest new regulations being imposed by the Travel Industry Council on members of the industry.  

According to the Hong Kong Tourism Practitioners’ Union (HKTPU), more than 3,000 people took part in the rally, calling on authorities to rethink the tough new rules.

The Travel Industry Council (TIC) had earlier proposed tighter rules on the industry in order to protect the rights of visitors better.

The regulations covered issues such as refunds for tourists and prevention of “forced shopping”. 

Industry workers say some of the new rules are too harsh.

Lam Siu-lun, honorary president of HKTPU, said the TIC must listen to the demands of the industry and engage in a dialogue with the practitioners.

He also said that his group was fed up with the Councils newly-elected chairman, Jason Wong Chun-tat.

Wong has abused his power, and must step down from his post, Lam said, according to Ming Pao Daily News.

Lam accused Wong of misusing his position to promote tour services offered by Hong Thai Travel Services, a travel agency owned by Wong himself.

If Wong fails to address the concerns, a judicial review will be sought to challenge the monitoring role of the TIC on the industry, Lam said.

Stressing that the industry has reached a tipping point after being cornered and bombarded by the TIC, Lam called on the government to establish an official watchdog for the tourism industry.

Tuesday’s rally started from the office of the TIC in Fortress Hill and ended at the government headquarters in Admiralty.

Legislative Councilor Yiu Si-wing, who represents the Tourism Functional Constituency, collected a letter from the protesters.

The police said there were as many as 2,300 people in the marching crowd at one point.

Lam was critical of TIC for only sending a representative to receive a letter from the protestors, instead of the chairman himself.

Wong has failed to show enough respect to the industry, he said, as protesters burned a letter intended for the chairman.

Protesters were seen wearing uniforms of red or blue, with some of them holding the Chinese national flag or the HKSAR flag and singing various songs, including the Chinese national anthem.

The demonstration lasted for two and a half hours.

Meanwhile, Wong said Tuesday afternoon that the new measures launched by the TIC were only meant to protect tourists and were law-compliant.

He issued another statement in the evening, saying that he has never solicited or accepted any benefits or interest from his position at the Council.

The TIC has stepped up inspections of tour guides and shopping spots from January 1 to combat misconduct in the city’s tourism industry.

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