The Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC) has decided to add four more independent directors to its Board of Directors and to appoint an independent director to be the convenor of each of the five committees responsible for disciplinary or regulatory issues, with a view to better protection for the interests of outbound and inbound travellers. These committees will also have more than half of their members come from outside the trade.
The TIC is well aware that given the importance of tourism to Hong Kong’s economy and the ever-increasing attractiveness of nearby regions, the industry has to strive for higher service standards and make all inbound travellers feel at home in Hong Kong so as to maintain the competitiveness of Hong Kong tourism. As a matter of fact, the TIC had begun to study how its self-regulatory mechanism could be enhanced long ago. When its M&A was amended in July last year, it was already stipulated that the number of independent directors could be increased without having to amend the M&A again if it was agreed by the Board of Directors and approved by the Government.
After careful study, the TIC Board has decided at its recent meeting to increase the number of independent directors by 50 per cent from eight to 12 (with the number of trade directors remaining 16), in order to boost the confidence of outbound and inbound travellers and members of the public in the TIC and also to raise its transparency.
At present, five committees under the TIC Board are charged with the responsibility of handling disciplinary or regulatory issues, namely the Mainland China Inbound Tour Compliance Committee, the Committee on Shopping-related Practices, the Tourist Guide Deliberation Committee, the Compliance Committee and the Consumer Relations Committee; and the convenors of two of them are already independent directors. To let more independent directors have a say in disciplinary or regulatory issues and to enhance the independence and credibility of these committees, the TIC Board has decided that each of these committees will have an independent director as its convenor, to be assisted by a trade director as its deputy convenor.
Of the above five committees, four of them currently consist of more than 50 per cent non-trade members and the remaining one has close to 50 per cent non-trade members. To clearly set down the number of non-trade members to sit on these five committees, the TIC Board has also decided that starting from next year, each of them will have more than half of its members come from outside the trade. In such a way, outbound and inbound travellers and members of the public will definitely have more confidence in the way complaints are handled by the TIC.