SCMP Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Unfriendly, unhelpful, sky-high prices . . . welcome to the SAR


Mainland tourists gave Hong Kong low marks for friendliness yesterday as debate began over whether the SAR needs to change attitudes to visitors from China.
Liu Yian, a teacher from Jiangsu province, said: "Taiwanese are much more talkative. In Hong Kong, the pace is too fast and people don't chat with you. Actually, I just came for business. The scenic spots here aren't very attractive."
Luo Bangfu, 30, a cargo ship worker from the mainland, said: "Once I was lost and tried to get instructions from passersby. They were quite impolite and didn't give me much help."
Student Angel Lee, 15, from Jiangsu province, described some people in Hong Kong as discourteous. "Some cleaning ladies at the hotel are unkind, but their behaviour is not representative of Hong Kong people. I think 90 per cent of them are fine."
Mainland visitors also complained that immigration procedures were long and tedious.
Guo Yong, 24, an interior design student from Xiamen, said: "I waited for two hours. There were thousands of people. Once I got here I found prices were two or three times higher than back home. I mainly came to visit my relatives."
But the chairman of the Association of Better Business and Tourism Services, Frank Lee, said discrimination was not a serious problem.
"There have been some complaints about bad attitudes and poor services," he said. "But it's not directed to any single group. We value mainland tourists because they are the biggest customers in the future.
"But it is a problem that there is no policing body to protect consumers' rights. I think the Government should consider expanding the role of the Consumer Council."
Hong Kong Tourism Board spokesman Simon Clennell said impoliteness ranked third among bad impressions mainland tourists had about Hong Kong, following pollution and overcrowding.
But he said twice the number of visitors thought Hong Kong people were friendly than those who did not.
"The thing is, if one person gets badly treated, word of mouth would carry it to other people. The damage could be enormous," he said.