New measures to curb forced shopping in the pipeline

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 June, 2010, 12:00am

Shops that force visitors to buy will be prevented from receiving tour groups, according to new measures announced by the Travel Industry Council to safeguard the rights of tourists.

The series of measures, which will be implemented gradually from the middle of next month, was drawn up during the council's board of directors meeting yesterday.

Under the new restrictions, retailers will face a 30-point deduction in the council's demerit scheme - a system which monitors the services delivered by various parties in the local travel industry - if they force tourists to shop, which will lead to their registration with the council being revoked.

The measures follow an incident last month in which an unlicensed tour guide used another guide's permit and allegedly refused to let a mainland tourist leave a jewellery shop. The tourist died of a heart attack after quarrelling with the guide.

Other new measures include requiring travel agents to list on a tour's itinerary the council's complaint hotline, the names of shops the group will visit and the amount of time to be spent there.

'These new measures aim to let visitors understand their rights better and rebuild the image of the tourism industry,' Michael Wu Siu-ieng, the council's chairman, said.

Tourism sector lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun believed the new restrictions would be of some help, but said the council should come up with measures to solve problems stemming from cheap or zero-priced tours and the involvement of many operators.

'The council needs to adopt long-term measures to create a healthy environment and business model, otherwise there are too many loopholes which can be exploited,' he said.