Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Tragedy of a Tourist

The jewellery store on the left was where the tourist was beaten up
It is shocking to hear that a mainland tourist died yesterday after trying to mediate a dispute between a fellow visitor and their tour guide.

Miao Chunqi, a 53-year-old construction contractor from northeastern Heilongjiang province was allegedly beaten unconscious by a gang of four men, thought to be mainlanders.

Together with 19 other visitors from China, Miao joined a tour that was probably cheap in price, but when they arrived, the group had to pay up the difference by buying up in a jewellery shop. The visitors were forced to stay inside and buy something, but a fellow tourist complained to the tour guide not wanting to purchase anything.

The two had a verbal altercation and Miao tried to mediate, but was attacked by four men believed to be mainlanders. The police source said: "Initial investigations showed he was dragged out of the shop and attacked again.

The "forced shopping" tour guide was arrested yesterday
The news of this tragic death has resulted in the Chinese tourism authority for Hong Kong to tell the local government to protect the rights of mainland visitors.

It goes to show the Leung Chun-ying administration is not doing a good enough job of keeping tabs on the situation. The authorities should be cracking down on cheap tours that rely more on shopping. Instead these nefarious tours seem to continue to exist, and now we've seen the ugly and tragic side of "forced shopping tours".

Now the Hong Kong tourism industry is concerned this incident will leave a dark stain, and already mainlanders have pledged online not to visit here.

The local tourism sector is already struggling, thanks to Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign that is scaring off big spenders, and now with this horrific incident, one wonders if any tourists from China will want to come here.

"Mainland tourists might lose interest and confidence in coming to Hong Kong," said Josephn Tung Yao-chung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council. He said tours involving shopping were highly sought after.

But tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing, cautioned against jumping to conclusions. "Maybe it was about coerced shopping, or perhaps, personal remarks. We don't know what provoked the dispute."

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