Source: Hong Kong Information Services
(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.)
The Government announced today that it will expand the scope of exempted group gatherings on October 23 to cover local tours with no more than 30 people including travel agents’ staff and participants.
Speaking to the media this afternoon, Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau explained that under the exemption arrangement, travel agents of the exempted tour groups are required to sign an undertaking to indicate that they will strictly comply with the relevant infection control measures.
“I think the proposed exemption for the local tour arrangement is premised on the understanding that tour agents, being the organiser of all these exempted tour groups, will take extra steps in protecting public health, in minimising the risks.
“At the same time, people joining this group will also be assured that they are getting a service that is better than managing their own tour.
“That is why a very important condition on this entire arrangement is for the Travel Industry Council (TIC), as the industry’s representative group, to help us to administer the entire arrangement through the undertaking signed between the council and individual travel agents.”
Mr Yau described the move as a happy arrangement that will help customers and travellers feel safer when joining the tours.
“For the individual travel agents, in the undertaking they will promise to do things such as heightening awareness by requiring all the participants to wear masks throughout or providing sanitisation, doing cleaning and also enforcing these rules.
“Customers are coming forward to enjoy a safe leisure tour, so I believe customers will have every reason to comply with the rules. At the same time, I think for the agents, they of course can turn away customers who are not willing to comply.”
Travel agents would have to face the consequences if they violate the requirements stipulated in the undertaking, he added.
“If they violate the undertaking, there would be provisions including not being allowed to continue their registration with the TIC. That means they will be deprived of the subsidies that they are supposed to enjoy under the Green Lifestyle Local Tour Incentive Scheme or the Spend-to-Redeem programme that is going to be launched by the Tourism Board.”