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Beijing court seeks tighter supervision of travel agencies

Updated: Aug 18, 2023 By CAO YIN Print
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While calling on residents to choose large internet platforms to book services for traveling abroad, Beijing judges have also suggested government agencies increase supervision by conducting regular inspections of travel agencies, especially those offering outbound tour products.

The Beijing Dongcheng District People's Court made such advice on Friday after seeing legal problems emerging with the resumption of outbound trips.

Data released by China Tourism Academy recently showed that travelers from the Chinese mainland have made 40.37 million outbound trips in the first half of this year, with 94 percent of them visiting Asian destinations such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

"With the adjustment of China's outbound tourism policies this year, more Chinese residents have gone out of the country or planned to go abroad, especially during summer vacation," Xu Jing, chief judge of the Dongcheng court's first civil adjudication tribunal, said on Friday.

She revealed that a quarter of tourism contract disputes the court solved in the past three years were related to outbound travel.

"Some lawsuits were caused by visa rejections or accidents abroad, while some happened due to expenses of extra activities, including those on healthcare, performance or education, during outbound trips," she added.

In a case, for example, a man surnamed Zang bought an airport shuttle service from a Chinese travel agency when visiting Phuket, Thailand, with his family. On the way to the airport, the family had a traffic accident due to fatigue of the driver, resulting in the death of Zang's wife and injuries of other members.

The driver was held criminally liable in Thailand. Zang initiated a lawsuit against the agency after returning to China, demanding it to compensate his family for medical expenses and the cost of prosthetic limbs.

"After a trial, we identified that the accident was caused by negligence of the driver, meaning that the agency did not provide the safety service for the tourists, nor fulfilled its security obligation in a tourism contract," said Long Kun, deputy chief judge of the tribunal, adding that the court eventually ordered the agency to compensate Zang most of the losses.

The judges reminded residents to enhance risk awareness while planning to have outbound trips, suggesting them to avoid destinations that are prone to instability or natural disasters, and be prudent too choose high-risk activities, such as diving, to prevent accidents.

They also called for government departments to expose problems in tourism market and intensify inspections on outbound trip services provided by travel agencies to maintain the market stability.

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