THE popularity of zero-fare tours among Chinese travellers has rebounded six months after China implemented its new tourism law banning them, with lax penalties for breaking the law a likely contributor to the revival.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Hotel & Tourism Management assistant professor, Tony Tse, presented these findings in his paper on The Legal Aspects of Shopping Tourism in the Chinese Outbound Market during the Global Tourism & Hospitality Conference and Asian Tourism Forum (Global 2014 and 11th ATF) held earlier in the week.
“The number of groups with shopping itineraries plunged 70 per cent to (about 3,000) when the new law was launched. The impact died slowly as of March (2014), as the figure (nearly 14,000) surpassed the same period of previous year.
Implemented in August last year, the law explicitly states that travel agencies are “prohibited from organising tourism activities and luring tourists with unreasonably low prices, or getting illegitimate gains such as rebates by arranging shopping or providing tourism services that require additional payment” (TTG Asia e-Daily, August 21, 2013).
Tse pointed out: “Obviously, this is not working and a local newspaper also reported on the resurrection of this tour recently. People in China use sponsor coupons to draw business and indeed, the penalty is not significant to curb this practice.
“For instance, in Article 5 of the Tourism Law, in case of violation, agencies just pay the price of the returned purchase to visitors,” he said.
The three-day conference drew nearly 300 delegates from more than 25 countries, and was jointly organised by the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (SHTM) of Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Taylor & Francis Group. Bringing in educators and editors of leading journals, the conference's theme was Charting the New Path: Innovations in Tourism and Hospitality – Innovations-Research-Education.