Travel firms may be asked to assess danger
NG KANG-CHUNG and and Shirley Kwok
Overseas travel agencies could be asked to help assess the potential danger of tourist attractions in the wake of the Manila Bay disaster.
And tour guides might be required to brief travellers on simple survival skills and safety warnings before certain activities.
The Travel Industry Council said yesterday it was considering the moves following a plea from tourists' rights groups to assess whether overseas transport is up to Hong Kong standards.
'The guidelines will, in general, ask tour guides to tell clients the potential danger of various activities,' acting chairman Simon Hau Shuck-kei said.
'For example, travellers who are too old or too young may be warned against taking part in water activities. And the guides may also need to give some hints on survival skills, say, how to put on life jackets.' Mr Hau said they might approach overseas agencies for help to work out the guidelines.
Provisional legislator Howard Young welcomed the proposal but warned that any assessment of risk factors could be controversial. 'You might think it is dangerous, but the agencies at the destination may think it is safe,' he said.
Also, travellers were more interested in the value of a tour, rather than any risks, he added. But he promised to raise the issue in the provisional legislature.
When the South China Morning Post contacted travel agencies yesterday to ask for safety advice on certain destinations, some sales assistants said their job training never covered that aspect.
One assistant at China Travel Service in Shamshuipo, selling a package tour to Qiandao Lake, replied: 'You will be compensated if you have bought travel insurance.' In 1994, 24 Taiwanese tourists were killed on a cruise at the lake in Zhejiang province when their pleasure boat caught fire.