Travel advisory – beware of “forced shopping” in Hong Kong

Hong Kong ShoppingChinese tourists have had enough. According to the Xinhua news agency, “An undated video clip currently circulating on the Internet shows a Hong Kong tour guide allegedly abusing a group of visitors from the Chinese mainland and forcing them to shop, triggering a backlash from the mainland public.”

This statement was made on Saturday in conjunction with the National Tourism Administration of China’s official travel advisory warning their citizens against Hong Kong’s pushy tour guides. Allegedly, some of the tourism agencies are getting kickbacks from the stores where they bring their tours to shop, which drives the tour guides to bully people into shopping. Reuters reports that one 65-year-old man allegedly died after arguing with a tour guide over forced shopping.

This is a scary phenomenon. I know plenty of Americans who can’t walk out of a gift shop without getting something because they “feel bad,” which I think is ridiculous. Still, if your tour guide is the one pressuring you to shop, how completely helpless would you feel? I mean, who wants to get back in the van with the dude who hates you because you didn’t buy anything? Imagine if you were in a strange country and your guide was verbally abusing you. I mean … come on. That’s terrible.

Furthermore, the tour guide is often your ride back from wherever you are, so walking away isn’t always an option. If this kind of bullying happens to you, report the incident to your nearest American embassy. To reach “emergency assistance to Americans in foreign countries,” call 202-501-4444 (seriously, program that into your phone).

[Photo credit: youngsixta]