TOURISM

Travel agency suspended for stranding mainland tourists

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 2:44pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

The tourism watchdog on Thursday suspended operations of the travel agency that left mainland tourists stranded, without hotel rooms, during last week’s Lunar New Year holiday.

3A Holidays had its membership in the Travel Industry Council (TIC) suspended after the agency’s boss three times failed to appear at council meetings to explain at least four recent scandals involving mainland tourists.

The TIC issued an ultimatum to the agency to attend Thursday morning’s meeting, but the firm’s proprietor, Wong Wing-kin, did not appear.

A letter from the agency attempting to explain the incidents failed to answer crucial questions, the TIC said.

Wong Wing-kin's daughter said on Thursday that her father was not feeling well and could not take the pressure of appearing in public at this time.

A lawyer was appointed to represent the company, but he too could not make it to the TIC this morning.

The government will have to decide whether it should suspend 3A's licence following the suspension of the agency's membership.

This is the first time the TIC has suspended an agency’s membership – which prevents 3A Holidays from organising any tours.

Council chief Joseph Tung Yao-chung said on Thursday the TIC would decide whether to terminate 3A Holidays’ membership after an investigation.

In one incident involving the agency, tourists slept on a tour bus after their promised hotel rooms did not materialise. In another, seven tourists were told they had to spend the night in a room intended for four people.

Two other cases involved tour members being sent back to the mainland prematurely.

Tung said 3A Holidays had failed to provide documents that could help explain its responsibility in the incidents. The documents include its agreements with tour guides and a mainland tour agency.

A senior manager of 3A Holidays earlier told the council that others were to blame for the fiascos, but his explanations were rejected as unsatisfactory.

He said a mainland agency was supposed to arrange the rooms but that phoney tour leaders, pretending to be from his agency, had led the tours that generated complaints.