[photopress:chinatourgroup.jpg,full,alignright]In a move meant to deter zero-fee tours, the Travel Industry Council (TIC) of Hong Kong now requires travel agents to provide mainland China tourists with detailed itineraries and a written promise not to force them to shop. (A word about zero-fee tours. You pay no money and, in exchange, you are hustled by the guide from shop to shop and urged, very strongly urged, to buy. The prices you pay reflect the fact the tour is free. As Robert Heinlein wrote: TANSTAAFL — there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.)
Agents will be fined between $6,300 and $25,000 if they do not follow the rules and keep pushing zero charge tours. TIC executive director, Joseph Tung, said: ‘We want to ensure that all travellers know what their rights are. There should be a friendly reminder that they can enjoy shopping freely.’ The itinerary provided should include each leg of the trip, accommodation and any extra charges. The reminder must also point out that any purchases made in Hong Kong are refundable within 14 days.
Anyone who has ever tried to get a refund in a shop in Nathan Road in Hong Kong will realize the last is a laughable concept.
Meanwhile, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau (TTB) has implemented a new measure that requires basic travel group fees of $80 minimum per person per day from mainland Chinese tourists. The $80 basic fee includes lodging in a three-star hotel, food, transport, tips and entrance tickets for mainland Chinese visitors to Taiwan. Fees do not cover shopping and self-consumption expenses.
All of which may mean the end of the pernicious zero-fee tours which did much to damage the image of tourist travel.
Source: TTG Travel Hub
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