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January 29, 2013

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Efforts to rid Lujiazui of scalpers frustrated

FLIER distributors hired by illegal travel agencies are finding ways to evade the authorities, making it more difficult to drive them out of Lujiazui in the Pudong New Area.

Officials said it has become more challenging to catch the scalpers.

"Children, the physically disabled and mentally challenged people, most of whom are homeless, are hired by illegal travel agencies to distribute fliers, which makes it harder to punish them," an urban management official surnamed Zhang said yesterday.

Scalpers face a fine of 50 yuan (US$8.06) to 200 yuan if caught, but Zhang soon found it useless as most had no money. In most cases, scalpers had their fliers confiscated as a measure to educate them, but they soon reappeared.

Many flier distributors also have moved from the sidewalks to the subways.

"They hide at the subway station, which is out of our responsibility to catch them, even if we want to do so," Zhang said, standing with a colleague outside an exit of the Lujiazui Metro station, looking at one scalper distributing fliers to passengers.

The distributors flee to the subway when urban management officials spot them, then run out if subway officials or the police try to catch them in the subway, Zhang said.

At 4:30pm yesterday, it was easy to find more than 10 scalpers within minutes.

A staff worker at the booth of the Shanghai Spring Travel said some scalpers have changed tactics and offer to take photos of tourists before giving them their fliers.

Tourism authorities have helped design a one-day tourism package as an alternative to the scalpers, and now they are working with more than 20 tourism agencies to drive out scalpers in Lujiazui.


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