Fears for HK tourism after visitor killed

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-10-21 20:18:04

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Editor's Note:

Tourism in Hong Kong suffered another blow after Miao Cheng, a 53-year old mainlander, was beaten to death by a group of thugs in an argument during a shopping trip. Coerced shopping, where tour guides push visitors into overpriced stores while receiving a kickback, has been a persistent problem in tourism, while mainlanders are increasingly avoiding Hong Kong after recurrent political protests. The Global Times collected three takes on the matter.

Tragedy exposes supervision failings

After experiencing the gloomiest golden week in years for tourism, Hong Kong witnessed another tragedy this week, in which a Chinese mainland tourist was beaten to death. 

It is not only an embarrassment for the city but more importantly, it will add insult to injury for Hong Kong's already dismal tourism.

This is not the first time that mainland tourists died in Hong Kong. Back in 2010, when Chen Youming, a former national table tennis player, visited the city, he was forced to go on a grueling scheduled shopping tour by his guide. Chen later suffered a fatal heart attack, collapsed and died, which triggered an outcry within Hong Kong.

There might be quite a few reasons for such tragic dramas, yet the lack of supervision and management in tourism must be the primary cause.

Over the years, low- and zero-cost tourist packages offered by certain agents have become sadly normal in Hong Kong.

Disputes and even conflicts caused by them have also become a common occurrence. Those agents take advantage of tourists seeking cheap tours. However, since the agents cannot make a profit from their low budget, they try to force their clients into as many shopping opportunities as possible, receiving a kickback.

The chaos of the Hong Kong tourism market definitely has something to do with certain agents or classless people.

Yet in the end, the phenomenon revealed the city's poor supervision mechanism.

According to the tourism law enacted in 2013, tour agencies are not allowed to charge unreasonably low prices in the first place and then make up the loss by forcing their clients at designated places for shopping.

It was effective at first, but has failed to become a permanent cure. Although it was forbidden, as long as the tourist companies signed the agreement with the clients, and both sides agreed that shopping tour is on the agenda, then they could still make a profit this way eventually.

It is time for Hong Kong to go through some soul-searching. A change is urgently needed. Once a paradise for tourism and shopping, its glory has already been lost in recent years. Its government must consider a reform in this field, in order to not only prevent such tragedies from happening again, but also win its reputation back again.


Local image damaged by some extremists

As the details of the tragedy have gradually been revealed, the death has reflected the chaotic Hong Kong tourism market and a serious loophole in the rule of law. It, at least, proves that forced shopping tours are common in Hong Kong.

The incident happened at a relatively sensitive time. It is natural for mainlanders to link it to Hong Kong's security chaos and anti-mainlander actions by some extreme forces over the year. This, therefore, has further damaged Hong Kong's reputation and its image in mainlanders' minds.

Hong Kong media should jointly condemn the beating. The seriousness of the chaotic behavior against mainlanders cannot be ignored. The local mainstream media should fully express sympathy for the dead mainland tourist. Absolving Hong Kong society of its responsibility for the tragedy will leave others with the impression that Hong Kong despises the life of mainland tourists.

Some extreme behavior, for instance, the Occupy Central movement and anti-parallel trading campaigns, has ruined Hong Kong's reputation on the Chinese mainland. A large number of mainlanders, instead of helping maintain Hong Kong's economic prosperity, have chosen other Asian countries as their travel destinations. Hong Kong's competitiveness is at risk.

Hong Kong has seen several extreme incidents have occurred so far, and thus Hong Kong society ought to shoulder the major responsibility to eliminate the misunderstandings between the citizens from both sides. Hong Kong authorities should guarantee that the tragedy of a mainland tourist being beaten to death will never happen again. Local extreme youngsters should also be forbidden from attacking the mainlanders even when they breach local customs. It is unrealistic for mainlanders to show understanding and sympathy for the minority of Hong Kong citizens.

The Chinese mainland never stirs up trouble against Hong Kong extreme forces. Whether both sides could overcome the aftereffects of extreme incidents in recent years hinges on Hong Kong society. Actually, every extreme incident serves as an opportunity for Hong Kong to clarify its attitude.

The article is an editorial of the Chinese edition of the Global Times Wednesday.

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