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Mainland, HK Strive to End 'Zero-fee' Tours
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Mainland tourism authorities and their counterparts in Hong Kong will work together to crack down on "zero-fee" package tours which are hurting the industry.


The measures include establishing a coordinating mechanism, publicizing both legal and illegal travel services online for reference, and using unified outbound contracts for Hong Kong tour products.


A zero-fee package tour charges tourists less than the basic costs for transport, accommodation and to places of interest.


To make up the difference travel agencies earn commissions from stores where tourists are forced to shop.


Man Hongwei, director of the Industry Management Department, China National Tourism Administration said yesterday they will join forces with Hong Kong to monitor the market through undercover and random checks.


"Travel services that are confirmed to have illegally organized or received tour groups at a price lower than the actual cost will be severely punished," he said, at a meeting in Beijing at which delegates from both sides attended.


The two sides will together promote "Quality and Honest Tour" products, and use unified outbound tourism contracts in six cities initially - Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen - and later in 49 other cities that have granted individual travel to Hong Kong.


Illegal tour operators in Hong Kong whose licenses have been suspended and complaints against shops will be put on the Chinese mainland's official website ( for consumers' reference.


Mainland travel services will be forbidden to do business with those suspended in Hong Kong.


A list of travel agents allowed to organize tours to Hong Kong will also be put on the website.


"At present, nearly half of mainland travel services that the Tourism Industry Council of Hong Kong found to be involved in zero-fee tours are not licensed to operate outbound tourism," Man said.


"We will investigate these operators."


Earlier this month, China's Central Television Station aired reports about Chinese mainland tourists being ripped off by Hong Kong shops. The report has had a negative impact on Hong Kong's tourism industry.


(China Daily April 27, 2007)


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