Police Up Game After Complaints On Illegal Tour Guides

November 12, 2018

NewsStandOnline.Net (12-November-2018): Responding to reports that some mainland Chinese travel operators are offering “illegal” services in Hong Kong in relation to bus tours via the newly-opened cross-border sea bridge, Hong Kong authorities have begun to tighten their scrutiny on the tour activities.

Yesterday, more than a hundred police officers were deployed to Tung Chung to carry out checks as the government sought to determine if the people who were leading the tour groups from the mainland were breaking Hong Kong regulations by acting as unauthorized guides.

The officers were there to collect evidence and record information about the mainland tour escorts, acting on complaints from tourism industry representatives who had warned that some of the Chinese travel operators are not complying with the Hong Kong rules.

Since the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) opened to the public on Oct. 24, Hong Kong has seen an influx of mainland tourists via the new route, with many of them entering in groups organized by travel agencies in the mainland and mainly spending time in Tung Chung before returning to China the same day.

Reports, however, surfaced that most of the mainland tourist groups had failed to follow the local rule that requires inbound mainland tourist groups to be hosted by Hong Kong travel agencies and be registered with the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong after arrival.

Police Up Game After Complaints On Illegal Tour Guides

Moreover, some tour leaders even changed into tour guides when in Hong Kong, which made them unauthorized workers.  In response to local criticism, the police sent out a number of officers yesterday to monitor congestion and collect evidence and record information of leaders of those tours.

The move was said to come after a meeting jointly conducted last week by the Security Bureau, the Immigration Department and the Transport and Housing Bureau.

Lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun, who is a lawyer by profession, said it was uncommon to see police officers being dispatched to have an operation targeting mainland tourist groups.

He noted that such cases, where mainland tourist groups are suspected of not following the local regulations, are normally followed up by the Travel Industry Council and the Travel Agents Registry.

While police have the right to enforce law, they may cite regulations such as those pertaining to illegal workers, rather than refer to the Travel Agents Ordinance, in their enforcement actions, Tse said.   According to local media, the police was waiting for a final decision by the Department of Justice before making further moves.