The Task Force on Business Models of and Regulatory Measures for Mainland China's Inbound Tours formed by the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC) submitted its report today (11 October) to the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, detailing 10 recommendations on tackling zero / negative reception fees and monitoring tourist guides for the Government's consideration.
Convenor of the Task Force Mr Michael Wu remarked that at the request of the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, the Task Force had focused on matters related to zero / negative reception fees of inbound tours from the mainland and the regulation of tourist guides during the past two months, with active support and assistance from the Tourism Commission. During the same period, the Task Force had widely consulted the stakeholders of various sectors of the industry, including travel agents, trade unions of tourist guides, registered shops, tourism-related advisory bodies and organisations, the legislative councillor representing the tourism sector and tourism institutions on the mainland, in order to comprehensively and thoroughly analyse and study the entire business chain of mainland China's inbound tours, identify the root cause of the problems and propose effective measures that can target the malaise. The Task Force also made reference to the licensing and regulatory regimes of other industries, and gave consideration to the relevant measures and recommendations from the mainland tourism bureaux.
Mr Michael Wu commented, "The essential principle of the Task Force is to promote sustainable and healthy development of the travel and tourism industry. We believe that any measures must be legitimate, fair and reasonable, and must protect the consumer rights of visitors on the one hand and allow the traders to run and operate their business in an unhindered manner on the other.
"Most travel agents, tourist guides and registered shops in Hong Kong provide excellent services, and only a small minority of them provide reception services through improper practices. Nevertheless, the Task Force believes that the reputation and image of Hong Kong tourism cannot afford to be harmed by the malpractices of a small group of traders, and therefore proposes rigorous regulations to be put in place.
"Since the proposed measures are likely to change the business models of mainland China's inbound tours, some traders may have dissenting views about some of the measures. The Task Force hopes that the industry will put the overall development of Hong Kong’s tourism industry above all else, and rally together to make the industry continue to develop in a better regulated and healthier business environment."
When deliberating on the problems, the Task Force came to the view that the mainland inbound tour market had its unique business models when compared with overseas inbound tour market, and as such decided to target malpractices of that particular market and put forward 10 recommended measures based on the following four major considerations: enhancing the regulatory regime of the TIC; increasing the deterrent effect and transparency of the penalties; clearly delineating the relationship, obligations and rights of the mainland tour operators, the local receiving agents and tourist guides; and improving the visitors' right to know and their consumer rights. The measures cover such aspects as the regulation of travel agents, tourist guides and registered shops; the promotion of consumer rights of inbound visitors; and the enhancement of spot checks. The TIC will continue its discussion with the stakeholders on the details of the recommended measures.
Please click here for the full text of the report (in Chinese only).