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September 17, 2009

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Ship firms caught in crackdown on scalpers

CITY shipping authorities have penalized two cruise companies for working with scalpers to compete for tourists in the Bund area.

Shanghai Bus Shipping Tour Co was ordered to close cruise business for the whole day last Saturday while Shanghai Changjiang Shipping Co was ordered to stop operations for the entire day on Tuesday.

The city is cracking down on illegal businesses on the Bund, which has become a hot spot for fly-by-night agents to cash in on tourist demands amid inconvenience caused by huge construction projects.

Many visitors to the city are disappointed that they can't enjoy a riverfront view on the Bund scenic walk, which is undergoing a face-lift in readiness for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo next year.

Visitors, especially foreigners, soon find themselves surrounded by dozens of agents eager to sell them cruise tickets or even take them aboard for sightseeing on the Huangpu River.

"Scalpers may have only paid 40 yuan (US$5.88) to the cruise company to get a ticket worth 80 yuan," said a Bund traffic renovation headquarters official surnamed Mao.

His office is in the area and he sees these scenes unfold every day.

At least 300 scalpers are believed to be active in the area.

The Shanghai Communications Transport and Port Administration Bureau launched spot checks on the Bund last weekend and caught the two companies offering discounted tickets to scalpers.

Random checks for illegal activities will continue.


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