3A boss denies inquiry dodge

Decision to quit travel council could see inquiry into tourist mayhem dropped

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 March, 2013, 4:13am

The owner of a travel agency that left mainland tourists stranded with nowhere to sleep has denied his decision to withdraw from the tourist industry's self-regulatory authority is an attempt at dodging an investigation.

The decision effectively spells the closure of 3A Holidays, which has already had to halt business after its licence to operate was suspended by the government's Travel Agency Registry.

Owner Wong Wing-kin applied for immediate withdrawal from the Travel Industry Council on Tuesday. Membership of the council is a statutory requirement for obtaining an operating licence, which 3A would be able to reapply for in November.

Wong yesterday denied his decision was intended to avoid the council's investigation into his company's role in the Lunar New Year debacle that left tourists having to spend the night on their coach, with only a Sham Shui Po public toilet for a bathroom.

"We definitely have an obligation to help the Travel Agents Registry and the Travel Industry Council on the investigation. It's not about avoiding the investigation, or not," Wong told Cable TV yesterday.

"I am old and I have been dealt so many blows. I have become frustrated," he added. He made no clear statement about whether he was closing the company down for good.

In another incident over the new year linked to 3A, seven tourists spent the night in a room intended for a maximum of four people.

The council chairman, Michael Wu Siu-ieng, said they would hold a meeting on Tuesday to decide whether or not to accept Wong's application to withdraw membership and whether or not it would continue its investigation.

He added that the council had the authority to fine 3A Holidays a maximum of HK$200,000. But he said there was nothing the council could do if Wong refused to pay and his company was no longer a member.

Earlier this month, Wong apologised for the tourists' ordeal but said their accommodation had been the responsibility of the two Shenzhen tour companies they had signed up with.

3A Holiday was responsible for food, transport and activities, Wong said at that time.