Mainland authorities have called on people to shun tour agencies that charge very low prices. This follows the recent death of a mainlander after a dispute about shopping during a guided tour of Hong Kong.
Forced shopping is not a new problem, but this is the first time that someone has actually died from it. People were shocked, sparking criticism on social media and in newspapers.
A mainland newspaper, Global Times, said the death reflected the "chaotic Hong Kong tourism market and serious loopholes in the rule of law" in the tourism industry. The incident also raised tensions between Hong Kong and the mainland, with mainlanders calling for a boycott on travel to Hong Kong.
While it seems mainlanders are keen to point accusing fingers at Hong Kong, I think both Hong Kong and mainland authorities should bear the responsibility. They should cooperate to protect tourists' rights.
To eliminate confusion, mainland authorities should tell everyone that the death was a rare case, instead of twisting the facts. Moreover, the Hong Kong government should set up the Tourism Industry Authority as soon as possible. But prospective tourists should also get smart about forced shopping tactics used by travel agencies, and reject low-cost tours.
Hong Kong welcomes visitors from all over the world, all the time, without this kind of tragedy happening. I hope it will never happen again and the tourism industry will prosper.
Shi Sen-pei, Maryknoll Fathers' School
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Sen-pei. While Hong Kong prides itself on being a free market, what happened is inexcusable and is surely a clue that things are not as civilised as they seem to be.
In what kind of city are tourists bullied, threatened and beaten if they do not buy from shops?
This is a crime and this kind of business should never be allowed to continue.
The shops and tour groups involved in this scam should be shut down, not just because they give Hong Kong a bad name, but because this is a criminal activity.