10 Things to watch out for when...Buying mainland package tours

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 October, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 October, 2001, 12:00am

Hotels: If you are not booked in to a hotel as promised, the tour operator should book you in to another hotel of the same standard. However, if you find that the 5-star hotel you were promised has been downgraded to a 3-star, you should take pictures of the hotel as evidence so that you can justify your complaint to the Consumer Council later.

Brochures: Keep the brochures issued by the tour agency as a record of the things promised in the tour package.

Claims: If you have problems with your tour package, you can negotiate for compensation with the travel agency. If that fails you can approach the Consumer Council.

Costs: The cost of the tour package can be kept low if you stick to budget hotels. On average, a 5-day/4-night tour package with the choice of a 5-star hotel should cost you about HK$1,000 to HK$1,500 more than if you had chosen a 3-star hotel.

Safety: Try to book your travel package through a reputed travel agency, which specialises in mainland tours, as they will possess better resources to ensure legitimate arrangements.

Language: Make sure that you ask the tour agency if the tours will be conducted in a language you understand. There have been instances when mainland tour guides have only communicated in Mandarin.

Goods: Be careful when buying medicines or dried seafood. Some consumers find that products they buy on the mainland are not safe for consumption.

Flights: If you have booked a short-haul holiday, it is important to find out the timing of the departures. A night departure from Hong Kong and an early return from the mainland will be counted as a three-day package tour.

Cancellations: As most travel agencies are offered a free ticket for every 15 booked with an airline, if an agency is unable to get enough tourists, they will usually cancel the tour. If the agent informs you less than a week before the trip, you are entitled to compensation of 3 per cent of the cost of the package.

Shopping: You should be cautious when it comes to shopping. It is a popular misconception that everything is cheaper in the mainland than it is in Hong Kong.

Graphic: TENN07gwz