Wednesday, December 2, 2015   

Left stranded

Kelly Ip

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A group of mainland travelers is feeling stiff and sore in mind as well as body after enduring a night on a coach after their Hong Kong travel agent failed to show up to help them.

The ordeal, which is under investigation by the Travel Industry Council, saw one of the 36-strong group being sent to hospital with chest pains after a rough night.

The council has already heard the agent, 3A Holidays, blaming "miscommunications" for the trouble as it thought a mainland travel agency had arranged accommodation.

But council executive director Joseph Tung Yiu-chung also said that 3A has agreed to compensate the travelers.

This includes an extra day on their tour, a night's stay at the Hong Kong Harbour Hotel in Aberdeen and tickets to a theme park, according to the affected tourists.

One of them, a woman from Jilin, said each person in the group paid 1,500 yuan (HK$1,865) for a three-day, two- night tour starting from Shenzhen.

"We feel like we haven't really visited Hong Kong," she said. "We only made it into a hotel for a single night."

They had registered to join the tour online, arriving in Shenzhen on Tuesday morning.

But they had to wait until 4pm for a tour guide to arrange a coach to take them to Hong Kong, and by the time they arrived here most of the day's program had to be forgotten.

The 36 were supposed to stay in a hotel in Tsing Yi but were told it was full when they finally arrived there.

So they were taken to a guesthouse in Sham Shui Po, thoug
h most of them rejected a stay there as they had paid for a three-star hotel.

While a few decided to accept the accommodation, those who had refused ended up sleeping in the coach, some on seats but others on the floor.

The forlorn tourists called police four times, and assistance from the Travel Industry Council was requested.

And later yesterday morning a woman who had seen out the night on the coach was sent to Caritas Medical Centre for chest pains. She was discharged after treatment.

Tung said having tourists spending a night on a coach is completely unacceptable.

"There was no hotel room, so there must have been a problem somewhere," he said.

"If a mainland travel agency was responsible for booking the hotel accommodation we will leave it to be handled by the mainland authority.

"If it's the Hong Kong agency responsible, we will tackle it."

Declaring that such an incident was unprecedented, Tung said possible action in such circumstances includes an agency's license being revoked or the cancellation of TIC membership.

But 3A Holidays - reportedly involved in a mainland tour group staying in a guesthouse rather than a hotel in 2011 - has seven days to submit a report.

Meanwhile, the council has notified the mainland's National Tourism Administration about the incident.

Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si- wing said: "Although rooms are rather difficult to reserve during holidays, travel agencies must have travelers in hotels. They are our guests."

A Tourism Commission spokesman said there are clear contractual terms between mainland and Hong Kong agents on arrangements for every group.

The commission has asked the TIC to follow up smartly on this case and to take disciplinary action if necessary, he added.

The travel industry has had to endure some torrid times recently, specifically after the closures of three Hong Kong travel agencies in the past three months.

Meanwhile, 100,000 Hong Kong people returned home on the last day of the Lunar New Year public holidays yesterday.

Some 2.1 million people had left the SAR up to Tuesday while 1.58 million arrived.

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