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Codes and Regulations

Code of Business Practice on Study Tours

Code of Business Practice on Study Tours

1.

Definition

Any package tour which satisfies the following conditions is a study tour:

(1)

its major target participants are people under the age of 18; and

(2)

its major activities include language learning, education activities, cultural/academic/knowledge exchanges, skills training, enhancement of life experience, outdoor classroom/sightseeing activities for the purposes of broadening its participants' horizons, etc.

2.Regulations for study tours

(1)Registration of study tours with the TIC

(a)(i)Members shall register study tours with the TIC in a way similar to ordinary package tours, and shall provide the TIC with documentation issued by the receiving organisations or host organisations at the destination (e.g. ground operators, education institutions, universities and schools at the destination, etc) confirming that reception services will be provided for the study tours. Members shall also provide the TIC with information on the venues (including those for classes, activities and accommodation), schedules (including those for classes, activities, etc), etc of the study tours.

(ii)For study tours which stay at host families, members may file with the TIC information on the districts where the host families live when registering the tours with the TIC. Members shall then provide the TIC three days (excluding the departure day) before the departure of the study tours with such information as the exact addresses, contact telephone numbers and brief descriptions of members of the host families.

(iii)If the host families arranged by members do not live in the districts the information of which has already been filed with the TIC, and the tour participants' representatives (e.g. parents/guardians of tour participants or organisers of the tours such as schools in Hong Kong) do not accept such alterations, members shall handle the situation in accordance with rules regarding cancellation of package tours. (For details, please refer to the rules stipulated in the Code of Business Practice on Outbound Package Tours concerning "cancellation of package tours for reasons beyond control of travel agents" and "cancellation and alteration [of package tours] for other reasons".)

(b)After a study tour is registered with the TIC, if any of its arrangements (e.g. its receiving organisation or host organisation, itinerary, accommodation, school and course) has been altered, members shall immediately notify the TIC of such alterations.

(c)Registration of study tours may be exempted if they are deemed charter tours according to Directive No. 129. However, members shall file with the TIC information on such tours at least 48 hours before the departure of the tours.

(d)If members and organisers of study tours (e.g. schools in Hong Kong) are responsible for providing different services for the tours, members shall specify in their documentation filed with the TIC the services to be provided by each party.

(2)Provision of comprehensive and accurate information for tour participants' representatives

(a)Members shall provide comprehensive and accurate information on study tours for the tour participants' representatives. (Members may refer to Attachment 2 of Directive No. 161 for the "Checklist of Important Components of Study Tours" (reference material) when compiling itineraries.)

(b)(i)Information on accommodation stated in the itineraries shall specify the means/type (e.g. host families, dormitories, holiday camps, hotels, etc), room arrangements (e.g. room types, the number of people per room, etc) and correct address of the accommodation. The phrase "of the same grade" or words with similar meaning shall not be used in such information.

(ii)For study tours which stay at host families, members shall provide the tour participants' representatives three days (excluding the departure day) before the departure of the study tours with such information as the exact addresses, contact telephone numbers and brief descriptions of members of the host families.

(iii)If the host families arranged by members do not live in the districts the information of which has already been filed with the TIC, and the tour participants' representatives do not accept such alterations, members shall handle the situation in accordance with rules regarding cancellation of package tours. (For details, please refer to the rules stipulated in the Code of Business Practice on Outbound Package Tours concerning "cancellation of package tours for reasons beyond control of travel agents" and "cancellation and alteration [of package tours] for other reasons".)

(3)Alteration of components of study tours

(a)Arrangements of study tours shall accord with the information stated in the itineraries or provided for the tour participants' representatives by members.

(b)Before the departure of a study tour, if any of its arrangements (e.g. its receiving organisation or host organisation, itinerary, accommodation, school and course) has been altered, members shall immediately notify the tour participants' representatives and the TIC of such alterations.

(c)If the tour participants' representatives accept the alterations made to the arrangements of a study tour (e.g. its receiving organisation or host organisation, itinerary, accommodation, school, course), members shall request them to sign documentation for confirmation purposes. If they refuse to accept the alterations, members shall handle the situation in accordance with rules regarding cancellation of package tours. (For details, please refer to the rules stipulated in the Code of Business Practice on Outbound Package Tours concerning "cancellation of package tours for reasons beyond control of travel agents" and "cancellation and alteration [of package tours] for other reasons".)

(d)After the departure of a study tour, members shall immediately notify the tour participants' representatives and the TIC of any alterations in accommodation, including its means/type (e.g. host families, dormitories, holiday camps, hotels, etc), room arrangements (e.g. room types, the number of people per room, etc) and address. If such alterations are made for reasons beyond their control or at the request of the tour participants' representatives, members need not offer compensation; otherwise members shall offer 15% of the tour fare to the tour participants' representatives as compensation and such cases may be referred to the Consumer Relations Committee and/or the Compliance Committee . (For the definition of "reasons beyond control", please refer to Code of Business Practice on Outbound Package Tours concerning "definition of 'reasons beyond control' " .)

(e)After the departure of a study tour, members shall handle alterations other than those concerning accommodation, including those in its receiving organisation or host organisation, itinerary, school, course, etc, in accordance with existing rules of the TIC. (For details, see the Code of Business Practice on Outbound Package Tours concerning "material alterations to package tours for reasons beyond control of travel agents" and "cancellation and alteration [of package tours] for other reasons".)

(4)Optional/self-pay activities

(a)Members shall provide consumers with a list of optional/self-pay activities before accepting their bookings for study tours.

(b)The list of optional/self-pay activities shall contain a compilation date and information on all optional/self-pay activities, including:

(i)the fees and components of such activities (e.g. if the fees vary with the number of participants, members shall clearly specify as such); and

(ii)the conditions for such activities to be held, such as the number of participants needed and the time to be spent on the activities.

(c)Before the departure of study tours, members shall ensure that the tour participants' representatives choose the optional/self-pay activities for the tour participants, and shall request them to sign documentation for confirmation purposes and pay the fees for the activities chosen.

(d)Members shall not add any optional/self-pay activities to the itineraries or collect any charges after the departure of the tours.

(e)Members shall allow the tour participants' representatives to choose freely whether the tour participants will join the optional/self-pay activities, and shall make appropriate arrangements for those tour participants who will not join.

(5)Tour-accompanying helpers

(a)Members shall assign at least one tour-accompanying helper who holds a valid Tour Escort Pass issued by the TIC to each study tour. If the tour participants of a study tour are travelling on more than one tour coach, members shall assign at least one such tour-accompanying helper to each tour coach, except in such situations as when the tour participants are travelling on different means of transport because they are grouped with international students in classes or split into small groups for activities.

(For safety points to which tour-accompanying helpers who hold a valid Tour Escort Pass should pay attention, please refer to " Safety Checklist " of the Risk Solutions Manual for Travel Industry in Hong Kong .)

(b)Members shall specify in the itineraries the ratio of tour-accompanying helpers who hold a valid Tour Escort Pass issued by the TIC to tour participants.

(c)If there are tour-accompanying helpers who do not hold a valid Tour Escort Pass issued by the TIC, members shall specify in the itineraries the ratio of such tour-accompanying helpers to tour participants and their scope of duties such as whether they are responsible for accompanying tour participants throughout the trip, or providing transfer or reception services for tour participants at the destination.

(According to the Guidelines on Study Tour Outside HKSAR issued by the Education and Manpower Bureau (now known as the Education Bureau) to schools, each study tour should be led by at least two adults, with each adult taking care of no more than 10 students. Please refer to Attachment 4 of Directive No. 161 for details.)

(6)Inclusion of service charges in tour fares

Tour fares of study tours shall include service charges. Members shall not collect any extra charges from tour participants.

(7)Purchase of comprehensive travel insurance

(a)Members shall require all participants of study tours to purchase comprehensive travel insurance, and shall not allow those who do not purchase such insurance to join the tours.

(b)The comprehensive travel insurance policy concerned shall include such important areas as personal accident cover, medical expenses and emergency rescue service.

(c)If study tours have high-risk activities (e.g. bungee jumping, diving, water-skiing, skiing, mountaineering, horse-riding, outdoor survival activities, ballooning, parachuting, white-water rafting, off-roading, ice hockey, racing except on foot, etc), members shall not allow those who do not have insurance cover for such activities to join the tours.

(d)If the tour fare of a study tour includes comprehensive travel insurance provided by members for the tour participants, members shall inform in writing the tour participants' representatives of its scope of cover.

(8)Confirmation

(a)Members shall request the tour participants' representatives to sign a confirmation form for acceptance of all arrangements listed in the itineraries and for undertaking to observe all tour booking conditions.

(b)On the confirmation form, members may consider requesting parents/guardians of tour participants to authorise them to decide how to handle emergencies which might be faced by the tour participants during the trip. Members may refer to Attachment 5 of Directive No. 161 for a sample of the confirmation form.
Note:
Apart from this Code of Business Practice on Study Tours, members organising study tours shall also comply with other relevant Codes of Conduct and Directives issued by the TIC. However, in the event that the regulations laid down in such Codes or Directives are different from those of this Code, the latter shall take precedence.