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Kickbacks for tour guides to be banned, 19,000 affected

Beijing's travel agencies cast doubts on feasibility of proposed regulation

Almost 19,000 registered tour guides will lose the bulk of their earnings if a government proposal to stop them asking for commission from souvenir shops comes into force.

The draft, known as the "Service Requirement for One-day Sightseeing in Beijing", will collect public opinion until Feb 18 on a government website.

 

Foreign tourists tour the Beihai Park in Beijing in the undated file photo. [Xinhua Photo] 

 

Specifically, it aims to prohibit tour guides in Beijing from asking for commission from shops at scenic spots by bringing in one-day tourists. The Beijing tourism administration (BTA) proposed the draft, but refused to comment on it yesterday.

A Sina.com article stated that there were 18,815 registered tour guides in Beijing in 2007.

The troubles of tourists on one-day tours have been extensively covered by local media. The People's Daily wrote in November that a typical day tour in Beijing contains two hours of sightseeing and six of shopping.

"There are only 40 registered travel agencies in Beijing, but more than 800 travel agencies run day tours in the city. Most are illegal," said a municipal government official surnamed Zhu from the Beijing tourism administration.

"Many shops provide a large amount of commission to tour guides. They want them to bring in a lot of customers," he added.

However, travel agencies and tour guides believe that draft is unrealistic and could even damage the industry.

"The government wanted to stop tour guides from earning commission for years but never succeeded," said a travel agency manager surnamed Zhou who has run his Beijing business for five years.

Bruce Yang, a 25-year-old tour guide who has been working in Beijing for two years, said commission makes up virtually all of his income.

"Travel agencies pay us per tour, and no more than 50 yuan for each time," Yang told METRO yesterday.

"But if my clients spend 2,000 yuan at shops that have business connections with my agency, they give me as much as 1,000 yuan in commission.

"I should give 500 yuan to the coach driver and another 10 percent to the agency. I make 450 yuan per trip, which is much more than the 50 yuan paid by the agency," he said.

Yang also said tour guides don't ask for commission from the shops, but are given it regardless.

"This is a hidden rule. If we stop taking commission from the shops, then the agencies need to charge customers more to make back the difference. The number of tourists will obviously drop," he added.