HK$20 fee to pay for undercover 'police' on mainlanders' tours

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 June, 2007, 12:00am


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Fees paid to the Travel Industry Council by its members to process and document their tour operations will help fund tourist police who will conduct undercover investigations to ensure tourists are not cheated.

The council is charging tour operators HK$20 for each itinerary filed with the industry watchdog. A detailed itinerary must be distributed to members of mainland tour groups, and a copy is filed with the council.

'As the [council] is providing these monitoring services, we need to pay for them with fees like the HK$20 handling fee,' said Paul Leung Yiu-lam, president of the Hong Kong Inbound Travel Association.

Undercover tourist police will join mainland tour groups in Hong Kong to monitor the actions of tour guides and shops.

Meanwhile, the council imposed tough new measures on member tour operators and shops yesterday in a bid to restore visitor confidence following a spate of shopping scams.

The move comes as Hong Kong prepares for a busy summer season. Mainland tourists are expected to flock to the city to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the handover.

The measures included a new 180-day refund policy for member shops, which mainly sell to tour groups. Previously, these shops only had to honour full refunds up to 14 days after the date of purchase.

The extended refund period is intended to deter shops that previously fleeced mainland tour groups with overpriced or fake merchandise. Many tourists only realised they had been cheated after returning home.

About 30 of the 57 shops registered with the council have agreed to operate under the new terms.

Michael Wu Siu-ieng, a member of the Association of Travel Agents' executive committee, said the response rate did not necessarily indicate reluctance as some shops had since closed down. The applications of some other shops are still being processed, he said.