Ticket touts are increasingly working the ferry terminals between Hong Kong and Macau, cashing in on the tourism boom in the former Portuguese enclave that has revealed the inadequacy of ferry services. Two recent major events in Macau - exhibition matches between tennis greats Pete Sampras and Roger Federer and basketball games involving Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Team China All-Stars - raised many public complaints about both the lack of ferries and associated ticket scalpers. Shun Tak-China Travel Ship Management, whose TurboJet fleet operates most of the Hong Kong- Macau sailings, said it was worried about scalping and vowed to protect passengers from rip-offs. A handful of scalpers can often be seen hanging about near ticket windows at the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Macau and the Shun Tak Centre in Hong Kong, especially on weekends and holidays. It is easy to recognise them as they shout to passers-by and urge travellers to abandon queues. They become more active when tickets for imminent sailings are sold out and passengers face a wait of up to three hours before the next sailing. That is when touts sell an economy class ticket with a face value of HK$134 to HK$176 for HK$200 to HK$300, depending on demand. On sluggish days, when ferries are not full, scalpers might sell tickets for up to HK$10 below their face value. Shun Tak-China Travel said 'the company is very concerned about such illegal activities' and was taking measures to stop it. 'We are consistently working with law enforcement departments, including the Marine Department and the police, to seek their assistance in deterring such activities, especially during holiday seasons.' A police officer patrolling at the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Macau said it was difficult to arrest and charge touts. Much of the difficulty lay in finding a passenger willing to testify, he said. 'People are reluctant to serve as witnesses against scalpers,' he said. Some scalpers appear to be working for travel agencies at ferry terminals because they lead passengers to agencies' offices for tickets. Advance bookings, with passenger co-operation, could be an effective way to combat scalping, Shun Tak-China Travel said. 'Customers can play a part in combating ticket touts by planning their trips early.' To encourage early booking, the company has launched online and wireless ticketing systems. TurboJet plans on supplying 145,000 passenger seats for Christmas day and Boxing Day, up 17 per cent on the same period last year.