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Tour agency in fatal Guangdong bus crash accused of making false statement on insurance

Leaflets for tour in question may have breached Travel Agents Ordinance by listing coverage that package did not include

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 September, 2017, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 September, 2017, 12:31pm

The local travel agency responsible for a one-day tour in Guangdong that ended in a bus crash that killed two Hong Kong residents is suspected of making a false statement on insurance and could face expulsion from the Travel Industry Council, the group confirmed on Wednesday.

Joseph Tung Yao-chung, executive director of the council, said the agency’s agenda leaflets for members of the day tour appeared to have breached the Travel Agents Ordinance by falsely claiming that the tour was covered by the Package Tour Accident Contingency Fund Scheme, which it did not qualify for.

Tung said the council had required the agency, Big Line Holiday, to file an explanation within 14 days before making a decision on potential punishment. This could involve revoking its council membership and could even affect the agent’s licence.

The coach transporting the tour group hit a stationary vehicle on Qianhaichong Grand Bridge in Nansha in Guangzhou on Monday night when it was returning from a trip to nearby Panyu.

The coach was carrying 44 passengers, and 43 of them were confirmed as Hong Kong residents by the Immigration Department.

Two Hong Kong residents – a man and a woman aged 60 and 61 respectively – were killed, and another 10 were taken to hospitals in Guangdong.

Speaking on a Commercial Radio programme on Wednesday, Tung said that any tour must meet two of three requirements to qualify for the contingency fund: the tour sets off from Hong Kong; it includes accommodation outside the city; or it includes activities outside the city.

The tour in question met only the third requirement, Tung said. It was reported that the agency had asked participants to gather at Futian in Shenzhen to begin the trip, the same place the tour was supposed to end.

Two killed, 10 seriously injured in Hong Kong tour bus crash in Guangdong

“It does look like there were apparently false statements on the leaflets,” he said. “But we need to understand why.”

Tung added that Big Line had been paying the medical and other related costs for the deceased, the injured and their family members.

Speaking on the same programme, Big Line chairwoman Chan Yin-ping said she would need to look into why there were such statements on the leaflets.

“We are deeply regretful about the incident,” she said. “We need to first handle all the injuries and provide help.”

Chan said the agency had been paying and would continue to pay for all related costs, such as the travel costs of the victims’ family members.

She said the deceased man’s relatives had arrived in Guangzhou on Tuesday evening and had been arranging to transport his body back to Hong Kong.

She added that the agency had insured the tour under mainland law.