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March 9, 2013

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Contract targets crooked tour practices

LOCAL travel agencies that steer tourists to overpriced shops and commit other abuses will be punished financially, according to a new sample contract published by the country's tourism bureau to weed out crooked practices.

Penalties include having to refund 20 percent of what the tourists paid for the tour for each place they stopped in violation of the contract.

Agencies offering "one-day tour" services in Shanghai are being asked by local tourism authorities to use the new contract in dealings with customers to protect the rights of the travelers.

Travel agencies are banned from taking tourists to shop at designated stores, arbitrarily curtailing the tours, changing their travel routes or using unlicensed buses, according to the contract published by the State Tourism Bureau and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

Many local residents and travelers to the city have said they joined such one-day tours organized by small travel agencies but were deceived by travel guides who took them to strange spots and pressured them to buy expensive goods.

A tourist surnamed Li said she paid 158 yuan (US$25.40) for a "one-day tour around Shanghai" that included a visit to the city aquarium. But her trip ended up at a privately owned aquarium that displayed ordinary goldfish.

Li said she was then led by the guides to visit small shops selling jade and tea leaves that were not listed in the trip.

In another case, a local resident surnamed Yang said she joined a group tour to Suzhou, but after she paid 160 yuan, the tour guide took them to scenic spots not on the travel route and charged extra fees. "We arrived at a pavilion displaying pearls and I didn't buy anything. The guide seemed to be very angry at me, shouting at me in a very rude tone," Yang said.


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