Tour guides face fines if they make clients shop

Tour guides face fines if they make clients shop

Travel agencies could be fined 300,000 yuan (S$61,000) or more if they force clients to go shopping during a tour, according to the Tourism Law that came into effect on Tuesday.

According to the law, a travel agency is not allowed to lure clients by organising tours at an "irrationally low price" and later having them go shopping in order to get kickbacks from the stores.

Unless clients have agreed to or want to go shopping, and their shopping doesn't disrupt the agenda of others in the tour, the agency is not allowed to ask its clients to shop in certain places.

What's more, guides must not ask for tips from their clients or lure or force tourists to buy things or pay extra money for activities they don't want to take part in, and tourists have the right to refuse services they don't want, said the law.

In early July, a male guide surnamed Meng threatened and cursed tourists during a tour to Beijing when they refused to buy more in shops. Police later detained the guide.

Many travel agencies raised the prices of tours after the law came out, and the more shopping or extra services during the tour, the more the price was hiked, said Zhang Lingyun, dean of the research institute of tourism development of Beijing International Studies University.

Yet the law can help improve the tourism industry from vicious price competition, he added.

However, Zhang is cautious how the law will work in the long run, though most of the agencies are discreet enough not to break the law at present.

Tourists should stand up for themselves when they are forced to pay, he said.

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