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Onus should be on watchdog

Updated: 2015-10-27 08:09
(China Daily)

Onus should be on watchdog

Mainland tourists carry shopping bags as they walk through Hong Kong's shopping district Causeway Bay. [Photo/Agencies]

While policymakers around the world compete with each other to woo Chinese tourists, a steady source of growth for local economies, it is hard to believe that China's top tourism watchdog warned on Sunday that tourists could be punished for signing contracts with travel agencies that offer incredibly cheap tour packages.

In a statement to tighten management over domestic travel agencies, the National Tourism Administration urged tourists to resist the temptation of the "too-good-to-be-true" cheap trips offered by some travel agencies and not to sign such contracts.

It has become a deep-rooted problem plaguing the domestic tourism market that some travel agencies have routinely enticed tourists with low prices and then squeezed profits from them by forcing them to buy exorbitantly-priced goods at designated shops.

It is the onus of the tourism watchdog to mete out harsh punishments for wrongdoers and eliminate such malpractices.

Nevertheless, rather than doing their bit to improve domestic travel agencies, the tourist authorities have burdened leisure-seeking Chinese tourists with the task of determining a reasonable price for numerous local tourist trips that can vary a lot in duration, routes, air tickets, and room rates and so on.

For those unfortunate tourists who cannot identify offers that are 30 percent lower than the reasonable price level and reject them, sorry, they risk not only being cheated by misbehaving travel agencies but also having their names published by the tourism watchdog for signing such contracts.

It is all too human for tourists to seek the best deal they can get. Instead of including this propensity into the cheating, China's tourism watchdog should focus on punishing travel agencies that try to cheat tourists with cheap deals.

If the tourism watchdog cannot shoulder its due responsibilities, it will be doing a disservice not only to Chinese tourists, but also Chinese policymakers who are eager to make tourism a new growth engine.

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