2nd May 2013
<Tour Bus Arrives Late, Chinese Tourists Demand $12,000 Compensation>
In recent years, a couple of Hong Kong tour guides have been slammed by the media for their poor manners when servicing Mainland Chinese tourists, and have caused conflicts between Hong Kong and China. After these two incidents, “professional tourists” from China whose aim is to get compensation have begun to invade Hong Kong. On the last day of the Golden Week holiday*, a Liaoning family of four who visited Hong Kong contacted the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, the police and a number of mainstream media to complain that their tour bus was delayed by an hour. The family demanded a compensation of HK$3,000 (US$400) per person, that is HK$12,000 (US$1,600) in cash, and three nights’ hotel stay. The travel agent described these demands as “extortion”, but made the concession of providing one night’s hotel stay and HK$500 (US$60) per person cash compensation.
Mr and Mrs Zheng from Liaoning, together with an one of their parents and a child joined a Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau five day tour group through Qinglv International Travel Service, a China travel agent. There were 80 people in the tour group the Zhengs joined. The total tour fee for the Zheng family was RMB5,980 (US$1,000), which included a RMB2,980 (US$500) coupon rebate. The tour, looked after by Million Dragon International Travel in Hong Kong, arrived in Hong Kong on 29th April and stayed at the Rambler Hotel in Tsing Yi.
At around 4am on 1st May, the tourists of this group got up to gather at the hotel lobby to wait for their tour bus which would take them to the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier for their next part of journey to Macau. However, the tour bus was 45 minutes late, and when it arrived the Zheng family thought that the bus was almost full and refused to get on the bus. They waited for over an hour before the second bus arrived.
Ask Media to Cover the Incident
The Zheng family and another seven tourists from the same group claimed that they refused to take the first tour bus because they were dissatisfied with the late arrival of the bus and the bus driver’s attitude. Mr. Zheng called the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Travel Industry Council Hong Kong to file a complaint and reported the case to the police. Afterward, Mr. Zheng rang a number of media asking them to cover the incident on-site. As media began their reporting, the seven other tourists took the hotel shuttle bus to return to Shenzhen, whilst the Zheng family stayed behind and demanded HK$3,000 (US$400) cash compensation per head and three nights’ hotel stay.
As the situation went into a deadlock, Mr and Mrs Zheng burst into tears in front of a big group of journalists. Mr. Zheng said, “I am very upset. Hong Kong is a society founded on the rule of law. (This is) a complete swindle!” Mrs Zheng said, “we have had enough of you (people of Hong Kong) in the past few days!” Their emotions intensified, “we spent tens of thousands of dollars (thousands of US$), and have contributed to Hong Kong. Anything that we could buy, we bought. We are people of a certain status (in China)…” They also said that they would never visit Hong Kong again. Mr Zheng refused to disclose his occupation, Mrs Zheng said she is a civil servant in China.
Travel Agent: Unreasonable Extortion
Ms Leung, a spokesperson of Million Dragon International Travel, responded that “we simply can’t compensate as this is unreasonable extortion!” “They did not get on the first tour bus, and we arranged the second one for them and changed their ferry tickets. They claimed that it had cost them an hour of time and demanded a HK$3,000 per head (US$400) compensation.” Ms Ngan, a Million Dragon staff member, explained that the company arranged two tour buses to take their customers to the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier. Unfortunately, one of the buses broke down and the driver of the other bus had to go back and forth to the hotel to pick up customers. There could have been some misunderstanding caused by the fact the driver didn’t speak Mandarin Chinese**. The travel agent eventually compromised and provided the Zheng family one extra night in the hotel and HK$500 (US$60) cash compensation each.
Chairman of the Hong Kong Inbound Tour Operators’ Association Charles Ng Kwong-wai said that unfortunately there are an increasing number of unreasonable China tourists, and travel agents are reaching a tipping point in terms of their capacity to accommodate China tourist groups, “demanding compensation is becoming more popular amongst China tourists in the last two to three years. They complain about the smallest incidents and the situation has become very serious.” Ng said that many travel agents settle these cases quietly by paying compensation to prevent any further quarrels.
* 1/May Golden Week refers to the week long Labour Day holiday in China
** Mandarin Chinese is the language spoken in China (other languages are also spoken across China, for example Hunanese and Shanghainese), but the mother tongue to the people of Hong Kong is Cantonese (the official languages in Hong Kong are Cantonese and English, and the majority of Hong Kong speaks at least some level of English)