A recent spate of complaints and group actions against travel operators unable to refund outbound tourist deposits or failing to discharge contractual obligations of tourism packages or single-purpose prepaid cards has raised public concerns over the infringement of tourists’ rights and disruption to the tourism market.
In response, China National Tourism Administration(CNTA) has issued a notice aiming to safeguard the rights and interests of tourists by setting certain standards on the operation of tour operators.
The purpose of the notice is to mandate local tourism authorities and travel agencies to advocate rational consumption by tourists, as well as to root out illegal operations and prevent market risks.
The notice covers three major points.
The first is about controlling the risks of travel package products, by which tour operators are forbidden to charge for two or more tour routes in a single transaction.
Tighter controls are also stipulated for taking outbound travel deposits. Tour operators charging for such deposits must be done through a form of trust with banks, and no cash transactions or cash transfer is permitted for such deposits, and the deposits cannot be directly transferred to company accounts or the personal accounts of company personnel. Such deposits cannot be drawn by the company for purposes other than as stated.
The third point cracks down on the illegal practice of prepaid cards. The distribution and implementation of single-purpose prepaid card issued by travel companies will be inspected, and arbitrary application of the prepaid cards for other purposes is prohibited.
On the other hand, local tourism authorities are mandated to demand tour operators found to have infringed the requirements stated in the notice to rectify within a specified time. Local authorities are also required to report cases of illegal fundraising, contract fraud and other illegal acts to relevant financial authorities and public security bureaus.