Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ministry zeroes in on errant tour operators

The Tourism Ministry will limit the number of Malaysian tour operators who can bring in Chinese tourists to help curb the problem of “zero-cost tours,” said Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor.

Zero-cost tour packages cover the cost of meals, tours and accommodation, but tour operators recoup their money by bringing unsuspecting tourists to shops selling goods at exorbitant prices.

Tengku Adnan said Malaysia and China would work closely to eliminate the practice of “zero-cost tours” by sharing and exchanging information on unscrupulous tour operators.

A working committee would be jointly formed to curb the problem as well as to minimise the problem of overstaying Chinese tourists, he told reporters after opening the new Tourism Malaysia office at Air China Plaza here.

Tengku Adnan, who met China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) chairman Shao Qiwei on Thursday, said they had a fruitful discussion.

“I have spoken to them (CNTA) on the (negative) effect of zero-cost tours on the industry and the country,” he added.

“CNTA together with us will immediately exchange information (on zero-cost tours),” he said.

Tengku Adnan said CNTA had a similar arrangement with the Australian Tourism Board allowing them to identify errant tour agents.

“CNTA will also work with Malaysia to strike off tour operators who allow visitors to misuse their tourist visas for other purposes,” he said.

He added that CNTA had indicated its support for Tourism Malaysia in achieving its target of bringing one million Chinese tourists to Malaysia during Visit Malaysia 2007.

Source : STAR
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