A tourism trade representative said on Monday that there's a need for Hong Kong to operate low-cost tours, saying it doesn’t necessarily mean that they would engage in forced shopping.
Last Friday, Chinese newspaper Oriental Daily reported that such tours have filled parts of Kowloon, with mainland tourists having to eat cheap takeaways on the streets.
The article also quoted lawmakers as saying that they've received complaints about forced shopping, a malpractice that saw travellers coming under pressure to buy merchandise at selected shops that pay tour operators commissions.
But the founding president of the Inbound Tour Operators Association, Ricky Tse, told an RTHK programme that Hong Kong needs all classes of tours, adding that budget tours have been playing a key role in reviving the sector.
He stressed regulators have not received any complaints since the border reopened earlier this year.
“Can you say that budget tours have allowed us to force tourists into shopping? We believe these things are now vastly different from the way they were in the past. Because Hong Kong now has the Travel Industry Authority,” Tse said.
“The regulator actually closely monitors such situations, whether there is any forced shopping, or agencies having any itinerary that doesn't match its reception capacity.”
When asked about complaints of shops selling fake medication to mainland tourists, Tse said it's a matter for the police to follow up.
Tourism minister Kevin Yeung, for his part, said the government will take matters seriously to make sure visitors have a good time in Hong Kong.