The chief executive cautioned the tourism industry against blindly pursuing growth in visitor numbers, as a travel agency boss at the centre of recent scandals failed yet again to appear at the Travel Industry Council, as ordered, on Tuesday morning.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying urged the council to be rigorous in handling the recent tourism fiascos, some involving the 3A Holidays agency.
“We should not blindly go for an increase in the number of visitors,” Leung said. “While we are pursuing economic benefits from the tourism industry, the daily lives of Hongkongers should not be affected.”
Leung said he noticed that many tourist attractions in Hong Kong were saturated with visitors during the Lunar New Year holiday, amid the growing number of tourists to the city. But he warned that a recent string of tourism-related scandals had affected Hong Kong’s reputation in the industry.
Last week, tourists travelling with 3A Holidays had to sleep on a coach after their promised hotel rooms were not provided. In another incident, seven tourists were told they had to spend the night in a room intended for four people.
The chief executive called for an explanation from the proprietor of 3A Holidays, Wong Wing-kin. Leung also urged the Tourism Industry Council to handle the matter seriously.
However, Wong failed to appear at the council again on Tuesday morning, as he did last week, despite a warning that the council’s executive committee planned to discuss the renewal of his agency’s licence on Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday, the general manager of 3A Holidays, Rocky Wong, did appear at the council, but his explanations failed to satisfy council executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung.
On Tuesday morning, Tung said Wong Wing-kin had informed the council that he was not in Hong Kong, so could not appear as requested. He also failed to appear at the council on Friday, after being summoned.
Two other tourism scandals were also reported by the media during last week’s Lunar New Year holiday, but 3A Holidays denied any involvement. In one, the tour ended sooner than promised while in another, tourists expecting to sleep in a hotel were asked to sleep on a cruise ship.
Leung said the government had nearly completed the latest study of the Hong Kong tourism industry, including its rate of growth and which places the tourists are coming from.