Travel watchdog adds 4 independent directors

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2007, 12:00am

The Travel Industry Council has decided to add four more independent directors to its board in a bid to address public concerns and improve transparency.

The move, announced at the board's annual general meeting, brings the total number of members to 29 and the number of government-appointed independent directors to 12. The other members are 16 trade directors and board chairman Ronnie Ho Pak-ting.

Although the council, whose mission is to regulate outbound and inbound travel agents, has been criticised for conflict of interest by various members, executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung said the board had decided a year ago to improve transparency and monitoring.

Since then possible changes had been studied carefully, but he added pressures from outside also had had an influence.

'We hope to increase transparency and want to make sure everything is fair and clear,' Mr Tung said.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Frederick Ma Si-hang welcomed the council's moves.

'The reform measures demonstrate the council's positive response to public concern and commitment to seek continuous improvement. These measures are in the right direction,' he said.

Mr Ma believed that the reform would enable more public participation in the daily operation of the council, which would increase public confidence and recognition.

The council also decided to appoint an independent director to be the convenor of each of the five committees. The committees are responsible for disciplinary or regulatory issues and also for protecting the interests of outbound and inbound travellers.

The committees comprise the mainland inbound tour compliance committee, the committee on shopping-related practices, the tourist guide committee, the compliance committee and the consumer relations committee.

From next year, each of the committees will have more than half their members coming from outside the industry.

Currently, four of the five committees have more than 50 per cent non-industry members and the remaining one has close to 50 per cent non-industry members.