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4 May, 2012

China Tourism Authority Warns Of Low-Cost Package Tours

By Wen Limin (People's Daily)

Beijing, Edited and translated by People’s Daily Online, May 04, 2012 – Not long ago, Ms. Wang, who lives in Beijing and has retired, wanted to travel to Hong Kong and Macao with her husband. After comparing several tourism advertisements, they found that the prices of six-day travel to Hong Kong and Macao are very different. They chose the travel agency offering the lowest price. However, they never expected that the troubles would come one after another.

When they first arrived at Shenzhen, the tour guide said that they must give 200 yuan to local receptionist in accordance with the “custom.” They agreed because they thought that the service might be better after they gave tips. The tour guide added that he can exchange Hong Kong dollars for them and suggested that they do not exchange in Hong Kong because there may be counterfeit money and it is unsafe. Therefore, they exchanged 1,000 Hong Kong dollars as 1-to-1.14 exchange rate in Shenzhen. However, when they got to Hong Kong, they found that the exchange rate is 1-to-1.41 and there are legitimate exchange places everywhere.

In Hong Kong, they spent most of time in shops under the arrangement of the tour guide. In a jewelry shop, a platinum necklace marking 5,000 yuan only sells 200 yuan. They did not visit any famous attraction in six days but bought a lot of jewelries and watches. After identification, these jewelries and watches are imitations of poor quality.

Many tourists have the similar experience as Ms. Wang. Therefore, the relevant departments of the National Tourism Administration warn:

Tourists should prepare to choose tourism products and learn about the destination through regular channels.

Low-cost package tours often have too many shopping activities and so they cannot guarantee the quality of travels. Tourists should make choice carefully.

When signing a travel contract, tourists should ask the travel agencies to write down the times of shopping, the time of stay and the name of shopping places. If there are extra costs, the travel agencies should make it clear.

During the journey, tourists have the right to refuse to participate in the shopping activities excluded in the contract. They should reasonably estimate the prices of commodities when they are shopping and do not blindly seek cheap goods.

Tourists should be vigilant to the shopping traps under the signboard of corporate sponsorship, anniversary promotion and fellow-townsman. They should demand and preserve regular invoices after shopping.

Read the Chinese version here.