The tourism watchdog yesterday rebuked a travel agency manager accused of leaving mainland tourists stranded without hotel accommodation after he claimed it had been impossible to verify whether their reserved rooms were in fact available.
Rocky Wong, general manager of 3A Holidays, appeared before the Travel Industry Council to explain incidents over the Lunar New Year holiday. In one, tourists had to sleep on a tour bus after their promised hotel rooms did not materialise, and in another seven tourists were told they had to spend the night in a room intended for four people.
Last week the council said the company had been linked to at least four such incidents.
"The hotel [we use] in Tsing Yi will not let us verify the rooms … the problem is not with us," said Wong. He added that a mainland agency was supposed to arrange the rooms, but conceded that 3A Holidays had been negligent.
The council's executive director, Joseph Tung Yao-chung, said: "It is absolutely intolerable for travel agencies to receive tour groups without booking the hotel.
"Even if the hotel was booked by a mainland [agency], [3A Holidays] is the receiving agency in Hong Kong. It has a responsibility to check it clearly."
Tung said 3A Holidays had submitted an unsatisfactory report to the council, and he urged its proprietor, Wong Wing-kin, to appear before the council today. The meeting will discuss whether to revoke 3A Holiday's membership.
Wong Wing-kin was summoned by the council to explain the incidents last Friday. But he failed to appear after earlier telling police he suspected phoney tour leaders had pretended to be from his agency and had falsely led tours that generated complaints.
Tung also said there were still many uncertainties surrounding the investigation. He said a mainland travel agency at the centre of one complaint by a visitor was not the one listed in official documents submitted to the council. And both that agent and another had denied having any dealings with 3A Holidays.
The Tourism Administration of Guangdong said it suspected 3A Holidays had not complied with rules for travel between Shenzhen and Hong Kong as it could not find the records of visitors on the tours.
It has asked agencies in the province to stop co-operating with 3A Holidays.
Hong Kong's acting tourism commissioner Rosanna Law Shuk-pui would not comment on Rocky Wong's remarks as he was not a responsible person for 3A Holidays.