Anger after agency tries to reopen
The Travel Industry Council reacted angrily yesterday after an agency that closed down on Saturday sought approval to reopen for business.
The council said Ideal Holiday was confusing customers, and could be breaking the law in addition to breaching the industry's code of practice if it accepted new clients.
But Ideal Holiday yesterday said it closed down temporarily because of a 'short-term cash-flow problem' and planned to resume its business if the council and the Travel Agents Registry approved. The council countered that the agency had already terminated its business on its own on Saturday because of management problems.
Meanwhile, another agency, SIG Holiday, said yesterday it was ready to accept about 800 tourists hit by the closure of Ideal Holiday, which would refund another 300 clients.
Joseph Tung Yao-chung, executive director of the council, said the registry and the council would meet Ideal Holiday today before deciding on further action. 'We very much regret the way they have handled the incident ... We cannot get hold of the real situation,' he said.
Tung said the information provided by the tour agency to the council contradicted that given to customers, and the person in charge could not be reached.
Tung reiterated that the agency could not continue its business and asked potential clients not to take part in any of its tours.
Yesterday, all three branches of Ideal Holiday were open, but manager Cheung Ka-wai said operations were confined to offering refunds.
Cheung said the cash-flow problem arose because there was a sudden shortage of tour buses in Guangdong on Friday because of the World University Games, also known as the Universaide, the international sports event being held in Shenzhen. He needed to pay immediately to secure enough buses, but some customers who took part in the company's tours through its online service had not yet paid.
He also said he did not terminate the business and that it was the council who required him to close down.
'This is just a very sudden cash flow problem and is not a long-term deficit ... As a conscientious and responsible tour operator, we hope we can get it touch with every single customer and provide proper arrangements,' he said.
Cheung said he had received HK$200,000 from all the 1,100 affected customers and estimated that the company would have enough money to refund them if every customer paid up.
Yesterday, Simon Hau Suk-kei, managing director of SIG Holiday, said it would take over most tours organised by Ideal Holiday. Others should get a refund from Ideal.
Hau said no extra charge would be needed if tourists chose to continue with their tours and some hotel stays would be upgraded. He defended Cheung, a former employee, saying he had no intention of deceiving any customers.
agents are members of the TIC
- It was set up in 1978
- Its mission is to protect the interests of both trade and travellers