Shao Qiwei, director of the China National Tourism Administration, says that CNTA will initiate a special campaign to straighten out the travel market focusing on cracking down on "zero-fee" package tours which are hurting the industry.
Shao made the comments during a video conference held with the National Regulation Office, Ministry of Public Security, State Administration for Industry and Commerce and State Taxation Administration.
The practice of "zero-fee" package tours has seriously hurt the market, Shao says. From 2006, CNTA has taken many special actions to crackdown on the illegal activity, and they have punished 817 travel agencies, 1814 tour guides and fined them a total of RMB20 million.
A zero-fee tour is a cheap travel package tour that charges the tourists less than the basic cost of transportation, accommodation and attraction tickets. The practice was started in Hong Kong during the SARS epidemic in 2003 because travel numbers dropped. It is now rampant in China. In order to recoup losses, tour guides often get kickbacks from souvenir shops and force members of the groups to purchase goods at certain shops.