Study may help agencies manage risk factors, says travel industry chief

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 February, 2007, 12:00am

A year-long study by the Travel Industry Council, to be released next month, will help travel companies better understand their liabilities and manage risk, executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung said yesterday.

The report, by consultancy Aon Corporation, comes after a judge on Wednesday found Kwan Kin Travel Services negligent in hiring a convicted drink-driver in Taiwan to drive a tour bus.

The bus was involved in an accident on October 18, 2004, in which five passengers died.

Hong Kong man Victor Chea Kam-wing, who was among the injured passengers, was awarded HK$814,000 on Wednesday.

'Usually, the outbound travel company will let the receiving company handle the arrangements. A US travel company, for example, sending a tour group to Hong Kong, will let the Hong Kong agent deal with the necessary arrangements,' Mr Tung said.

He declined to comment directly on the Kwan Kin case as the agency is appealing.

The judgment means local travel companies may be held liable for the actions of their foreign agents.

Mr Tung hopes the report will shed light on how travel companies can manage risk and the need for professional liability insurance. The insurance provides negligence coverage but firms often neglect to take out polices because of high premiums and limited coverage, he said.

Peter Tam Chung-ho, chief executive of the Federation of Insurers, which has been liaising with the council on this issue, said he would welcome efforts to see all travel companies carry this insurance but warned that travel companies need to meet certain minimum operating standards before insurers will sell them policies.

Yesterday, a Hong Kong travel agency and tour guide that were accused of abandoning two members of a tour group from Guangxi after the pair reportedly refused to shop, insisted they were innocent of any wrongdoing.

Stella Wong, managing director of Superlink Travel Company, which received the 21-member tour group on Tuesday, said the pair, Dong Jianbin, 43, and his girlfriend, Huang Yan, 24, had said they left the tour on their own.

The tour guide, Sammy Lau Sin-mei, a 10-year veteran, also said he did not coerce anyone to shop, even though the itinerary clearly indicated a visit to a jewellery shop.

Since Thursday last week, guides have had to provide detailed itineraries to all tour members and state clearly that no shopping is required.