The China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) says it will initiate a number of measures to “straighten out” China’s travel industry before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Director, Mr Shao Qiwei, said the CNTA would crack down on zero-fee packaged tours, which had seriously hurt the market to date.
In addition to punishing travel agencies — according to the CNTA, 817 agencies and guides have already been fined a total of RMB20 million (US$2.62 million) or had their licences revoked for illegal practices — Mr Shao said the CNTA had abolished a rule covering the deposit and compensation rights of travel agencies to tourists.
In its place is the Travel Agency Quality Deposit and Compensation Standard.
According to CNTA, the aim of the new regulation makes travel agencies responsible for breaches in contract.
Under the new standard, agencies must pay tourists 10 per cent of their prepayment charge if a trip is delayed or cancelled without notice of at least three days in advance for domestic travel, and seven days in advance for outbound travel.
In addition, if a scenic spot listed in a contract cannot be visited, the new standard requires that travel agencies refund the door ticket and tour guide fee to travellers and deliver a cash compensation of 20 per cent of their prepayment fee.
The Travel Agency Quality Deposit and Compensation Standard also includes measures to deal with illegal actions by tour guides, saying tour guides must not change, add or remove travel items on itineraries.