The government has announced six new measures to clamp down on “zero fare tours” whereby tourists in Hong Kong may avail the services of tour guides for free – under the condition that they are forced to shop as compensation.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung announced the measures following a meeting at the Legislative Council on Friday.

The measures include demanding tour agencies produce a list of tourists, including the tour escorts. The measure is aimed at deterring “shadow tourists,” who are “fake” tourists in tour groups who encourage others to spend significant amounts of money.

A half-mile stretch of Nathan Road. Photo: HKFP.

If names of certain tourists show up repeatedly in different tour groups over a short period of time, the government will have evidence that certain parties are “shadow tourists.”

Another planned measure is for the Travel Industry Council to regularly check the contracts between mainland Chinese travel agencies and Hong Kong tourism service providers in order to examine if there are clauses to force tourists to shop.

Other measures planned include increasing regular surveillance of retail shops which cooperate with tour agencies that force tourists to shop. Mainland tourists may be given cost information to increase the transparency of tour fares, and a merit scheme may be established by the Customs and Excise Department for stores to join.

Recently, a mainland tourist died in Hong Kong after being injured in a fight with his tour guide and others over suspected “forced shopping.”


Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.