Hong Kong's travel watchdog slams tour guide's rant

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The Independent Travel

Hong Kong's travel industry watchdog on Thursday slammed a tour guide for her rant against a group of mainland Chinese visitors which was posted on video-sharing website YouTube.

The seven-minute tirade has filled local newspapers for weeks, stoked outrage in mainland China and heaped embarrassment on Hong Kong's tourist industry, since it was posted.

In it the guide is seen lambasting tourists from eastern Anhui province, accusing them of being cheapskates for not spending enough at a local jewellery shop during their March tour of the city.

"This has really jeopardised Hong Kong (as a travel destination)," Joseph Tung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, told AFP.

"We were really shocked when we saw the video - this sort of attitude is unacceptable."

Tung said the matter is being investigated before a decision is made about whether to revoke the guide's license.

Hong Kong - a former British colony returned to China in 1997 which retains semi-autonomous status - attracts millions of mainland tourists every year.

In the video, which was captured on a tourist's camera phone, guide Li Hau-chun threatens to lock the visitors out of their hotel and deprive them of food if they don't spend more money.

"It's you who owe me here, not me owing you," she says in Mandarin.

"I provided you with food and accommodation but you people will not give. If you don't repay the debt in this life you will have to repay it in your next life."

"It's OK to be poor at home, but you can't act like this when you are outside," she added. "Don't tell me you don't need (the jewellery), I say you don't need to eat either. Tonight I will lock all hotel room doors, because you don't need accommodation."

The guide's teary-eyed public apology on local television this week garnered little sympathy from some radio listeners who accused the woman of trying to save her job, local media reported.

The video came after Hong Kong's travel sector was sideswiped by a string of earlier scandals involving visitors who complained about being strong-armed by tour guides to go shopping. Guides often earn commission from local shops based on how much their tour groups spend.

An elderly mainland man died of a heart attack last month after arguing with a tour guide who allegedly refused to let him leave a jewellery shop.

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