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Plan to strip tour guides of shops' commission

Tour agencies and guides will not be able to earn a commission from the shops they bring their tour parties to, under a draft of the city's new tourism regulations.


Instead, the law states that tour agencies should raise their prices to offset the loss of commission, which would then enable the government to tax this income.


The draft will be debated next month, said the Shanghai People's Congress yesterday.


Local tour agencies, however, said the new rule wouldn't benefit agencies, tour guides or tourists, and the regulation would not be effective.


Shanghai China International Travel Service Co Ltd said if the commission was included in the price of the package, prices would rise too much.


The new law would also leave tourists paying the additional costs, which are currently shouldered by retailers, the company said.


Currently, tourists can choose whether or not to buy anything in the stores they are taken to. If the draft becomes a law, they will be paying extra even if they don't buy anything during their trip.


In addition, tour agencies will have to make new policies to reward tour guides.


"The whole salary system of tour guides will be changed," said Yu Weihua, general manager of the agency. "And it's not easy for tour agencies to carry out this kind of reform in a short time."


At present, tour guides have low salaries and most rely on commission from souvenir stores to make a living.


However, there have been complaints that some agencies and guides spend more time and energy taking guests to stores and encouraging them to buy things than they do showing them around tourist attractions.


The Shanghai Tourism Administration said the new rules would protect the interests of consumers.


"Tour agencies should improve their management practices rather than complain," said Zhu Jianguo, an official with the administration.


(Shanghai Daily June 8, 2009)