The Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong said that it will tighten the enforcement of industry regulations starting Friday, following the signing of travel cooperation agreements between Guangzhou and Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Measures include requiring tour guides to bring their passes and arranging patrols in stores at shopping destinations. Chairman Wong Chun-tat told RTHK that carrying one’s tourist guide pass was a common practice internationally, and it would enable tour guides to enter attractions easily and help tourists identify their guides.

wong chun-tat
Wong Chun-tat. File

Wong said that anyone found not following the regulations would be given a warning or a fine. They could also get demerits under the Council’s demerits system.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong and Guangzhou has also signed three travel cooperation agreements and will be implementing the Quality Hong Kong Tour Red List by Chinese New Year. With the list, which is the first of its kind in the country, tourists will be able to identify tours with forced shopping elements and choose accordingly.

Guangzhou tourism bureau deputy chief Tan Aiying said that travel agencies need to fulfil three criteria to be listed under the programme. They must hold a licence to operate tours to Hong Kong, be recognised by Guangzhou city as a trustworthy agency, and promise not to form low-price forced shopping tours.

shopping hong kong
Shopping in Hong Kong. Photo: Stand News.

49 travel agencies in Guangzhou that are qualified to operate such tours are on the red list. The list will be reviewed every year and those travel agencies which have received complaints of a serious nature will be kicked out, Oriental Daily reported.

In November, the government 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. The measures came after a mainland tourist died in Hong Kong after being injured in a fight with his tour guide and others over suspected “forced shopping” in October.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.