A mainland tourist who grabbed a female tour guide by the neck has been fined HK$3,000 and ordered to pay HK$1,000 in compensation.
Ma Xin, 32, pleaded guilty yesterday in Kowloon City Court to common assault.
He had been out shopping and was by a jewellery shop in Man Lok Street, Hung Hom, when he ran into a tour group led by 44-year-old Tseung Lai.
Tseung had reprimanded one of her tour members for throwing away a cigarette butt, prompting Ma to intervene. A dispute followed, during which Ma grabbed Tseung's neck, inflicting injuries that required hospital treatment.
It was one of two attacks on tour guides on Tuesday. The other involved a scuffle between a 38-year-old tourist and a male guide in Cheung Sha Wan, which began when the guide told the man not to smoke. That case did not go to court after the tourist signed a written apology.
The Security Bureau held a meeting with the Travel Industry Council and representatives of tour guides yesterday to discuss recent assaults. There have been four cases over the past month.
Police were asked to install surveillance cameras and increase patrols in tourist hotspots. They were also urged to simplify the process of reporting crimes and examining injuries so as to avoid delaying the itinerary of other tour members. On Wednesday, the Immigration Department indicated that tourists convicted of crimes would be put on a monitoring list and may be barred from returning.
The honourable president of the Tourism Workers' Federation, Lam Siu-lun, who attended the meeting, said the council had made the right move in engaging the government but that such a step should have happened much earlier.
Although he had no statistics to hand, Lam estimated there were similar attacks every other week. He said he believed media exposure would help discourage future incidents.
"I can audaciously predict that for a long and foreseeable future, there will not be any similar cases," he said.
Lam's union had called for the resignation of the council's executive director, Joseph Tung Yao-chung, for failing to pay attention to the well-being of tour guides. Bu he adopted a softer stance yesterday, saying Tung had done all he could to stop violence.
Last year, the mainland banned travel agents from bringing tour groups on "forced shopping" trips to designated shops unless prior consensus was reached with group members.