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December 23, 2010

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Travel firms face ban if use 'black' coaches

SHANGHAI travel agencies face suspension unless they hire only local licensed coaches, city tourism chiefs have warned, as they seek to improve safety for the holiday season.

Tourism and law enforcement authorities announced the crackdown in the run-up to the New Year holiday and Spring Festival after five accidents last month involving Shanghai tour companies or which took place in the city left 10 people dead.

The government will also gather the bosses of the city's 900-plus travel agencies and 100-plus coach companies next month, offering them free training on safety operations. One of their instructors will be Vice Mayor Zhao Wen.

Officials fear that the coming holidays could see more accidents among touring groups as the weather could be poor and traffic is expected to be at its heaviest.

New regulations require travel agencies to sign contracts with coach companies to ensure that buses are in good condition, said Dao Shuming, director of the Shanghai Tourism Administration.

Travel agencies that hire unlicensed "black" coaches or buses from other provinces will have their licenses suspended.

The five recent accidents mostly involved unlicensed drivers and buses in poor condition, illegally hired by small companies at cheap prices, according to Dao.

On November 7, a coach carrying passengers overturned in Jinshan District, killing four tourists.

Another three tourists died in a bus accident in Tonglu, Zhejiang Province on November 21.

Four days later, a bus carrying 18 passengers crashed into a car on the expressway linking Shanghai and Ningbo, killing three and injuring 17.


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