The Hong Kong Hustle: Dodgy guides pressure tourists to shop

Culture | by Aimee Groom
Posted: July 21st, 2010 | Updated: July 21st, 2010 | Comments
Hong Kong skylineThe package tour hustle of unscheduled "shopping stops" (where tourists are taken to stores or factories to buy over-priced souvenirs that they don't really want and the tour guide gets a commission) is nothing new in China, but in Hong Kong,where shopping is a tourist mainstay, it seems to be reaching dangerous new heights. One elderly shopper keeled over and died in-store earlier this year after quarreling with an unlicensed guide and just this week, video footage has come to light of another threatening to lock her guests out of their hotel if they didn't splash enough cash!
"We were in the shop for 1.5 hours. Don't tell me you don't need to shop. I can say you don't need to eat either. Tonight I will lock all the hotel room doors, because you don't need a place to stay," said 'Ah Zhen'. (
With over 170 complaints to the National Tourism Administration of China (NTAC) so far this year, this was the latest in a string of misdemeanors by rogue tour guides in the Special Administrative Region. The NTAC has issued an advisory about travel to Hong Kong and said they will be taking measures to crackdown on this kind of behavior and unlicensed tour guides, though its not very clear yet exactly what those measures will be. Although so far they've all been targeted toward mainland Chinese, it's worth bearing in mind for anyone planning a trip to Hong Kong to book their tours through a licensed and reputable agency like our friends Ctrip, where shopping stops are always mentioned in the itinerary for no surprises. If you want to plan your own shopping expedition in Hong Kong without the risk of strong-arming, check out this handy Hong Kong shopping guide for the best places to head.
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