Efforts to attract more mainland tourists to Hong Kong could fail unless action was taken to stop them being discriminated against and cheated, the biggest cross-border travel operator warned yesterday. The warning came as Financial Secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung visited Beijing to discuss proposals to relax visa restrictions on tourists and business people coming to the SAR. Sun Jiangang, deputy general manager of China Travel Management (HK and Macau), which brings in about half the mainland tour group visitors to Hong Kong, said Mr Leung's efforts were pointless unless Hong Kong people changed their attitudes. 'We frequently encounter discriminatory attitudes and practices from some businesses here. [Mainland tourists] feel very bad about this, they tell us they have been looked down upon. It's a quite common phenomenon,' Mr Sun said. 'When Hong Kong visitors go to the mainland, hotels and shops there are most willing to serve them. But here, the majority of hotels mainly serve foreign business groups [and] not all of them are willing to take mainland tour groups.' Mr Sun said discrimination had soured Hong Kong's image. 'We feel some hotels and shops need to improve their attitude and services. Hong Kong is an open society, people should respect visitors no matter where they are from. After all, they come here to spend money.' Mr Sun said lack of protection against cheating had also damaged the SAR's reputation. 'There is no effective monitoring body or regulation to protect mainland tourists against rip-offs, although it is a commonplace problem for them. They can only complain to the Consumer Council, but that is not effective at all.' Simon Clennell, spokesman for the Hong Kong Tourism Board, supported the call for tougher regulations. 'Right now the Consumer Council can't help cheated tourists to get money back - that's the area we need to strengthen. We want the council to be able to take action,' he said. Long waits at the border were also damaging impressions of Hong Kong, Mr Sun said. 'During public holidays, there are more than a thousand groups at Lowu waiting to come over. The existing facilities just can't meet the requirements,' he said. 'Without solving these problems, promotion won't get you anywhere.' Mr Sun said Hong Kong had lost tourists to Korea and South Asia, seen by mainlanders as cheaper and more exotic. 'Visitors from Shanghai and Beijing told me they won't come back to Hong Kong for a second time because once you've seen Ocean Park and The Peak, there's nothing much else to see,' he said. China Travel brought more than 200,000 package tourists to Hong Kong last year. Three million mainlanders visited in 2000. The criticisms came as Mr Leung attended a meeting in Beijing to boost tourism. He met Liao Hui, head of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council. 'We have held positive and constructive discussions on various ways to promote tourism in Hong Kong, in particular visa arrangements,' Mr Leung said. Proposals to be discussed today are understood to include multiple-entry business visas valid for three years. Mr Leung will meet Minister of Public Security Jia Chunwang and China National Tourism Administration chairman He Guangwei. Mr Sun welcomed efforts to simplify visa procedures. 'Mainland business visitors often have difficulties obtaining a business visa - they have to join the tour groups. About 20 per cent of package tourists are actually business visitors.'