CHINA'S tourism authorities have banned staff of government institutions and social organisations from using public funds for private travel. Xinhua (the New China News Agency) said yesterday the State Tourism Administration had recently issued a set of directives to clamp down on widespread abuse in organising pleasure trips under the accounts of official activities. Travel agencies in all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have been ordered to abide by the government regulations and strengthen efforts to plug the loopholes. The report said government-recognised travel agencies, which organised tours to Hong Kong and Southeast Asia countries, should not accept applications from Communist Party officials for government-funded trips. The directives also prohibited any unauthorised departments from setting up businesses of self-financed overseas tours for Chinese citizens. It called on tourism departments at all levels to investigate and ban any unauthorised travel businesses, Xinhua said.