Written warning for travel agency after mainlanders were ditched at a ferry pier A local guide who abandoned a mainland tour group at a ferry pier was yesterday suspended for two weeks by the Travel Industry Council while it investigates whether the case warrants tougher action. A written warning was also served on the tour guide's employer, Kam Sing International Travel Agency. It is the first time the council has imposed sanctions before completing an investigation. The council, which held an emergency meeting yesterday, admitted that its ability to effectively police travel agencies is limited, but said it would look into ways to more actively monitor their operations. 'We don't have any jurisdiction to penalise somebody,' said council chairman Ronnie Ho Pak-ting. 'We just regulate travel agencies and discipline members to a certain extent.' The latest complaint stems from an incident on Sunday when the tour guide left a 12-member group from Qinghai at the Kowloon City pier after they refused his demands to buy more souvenirs. The incident even provoked comments from Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who warned that tours that forced mainland tourists to shop to generate commissions were unhealthy for the tourism sector. However, he said the sector should not be burdened with excessive regulation because it needed to remain flexible to meet market conditions. 'Any industry has its own unscrupulous operators,' he said. Joseph Tung Yao-chung, the council's executive director, met the tour group at their hotel on Sunday evening to hear their case, although no complaint was lodged against the tour guide. Mr Tung said the council took action because forcing tourists to shop is not allowed and the tour guide's behaviour was unacceptable. Gianna Wong Mei-lung, the council's deputy chairman, said a ban on tours in which groups were required to shop at selected stores so guides could earn commission had been considered but rejected. She said more public education, and greater awareness of consumer rights were needed in the travel and retail sectors. The council plans to create a committee dedicated to the mainland market to better devote resources to address the problem. It also plans to meet mainland tourism authorities in Beijing within the next two months to discuss the issue, Mr Ho said. Liberal Party legislator Howard Young, who represents the tourism sector, agreed more needed to be done to address the issue including educating mainland visitors about consumer rights. The Legislative Council will discuss the matter at a panel meeting late next month. 'I agree that these measures will not solve the problem. We need to tackle it at the source,' Mr Young said. 'Out of all the tourists we get, why do we only have this problem with visitors from the mainland?' Up to mid-September, the council reported a 17 per cent rise in the number of complaints against tour guides, to 95, compared with the same period last year.