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Friday, July 1, 2016, 01:05

Man gets five months in prison over death of mainland tourist

By Luis Liu

HONG KONG - A Hong Kong tour guide who had a physical conflict with two mainland tourists which resulted in the death of a tourist outside a Hung Hom jewelry shop last October was found guilty of common assault and sentenced to five months in prison on Thursday.

Hong Kong tour guide Woo Yin-nam, 44, had denied two counts of common assault on Zhang Lixia, 53, and Miao Chunqi, 54. Miao died of a heart attack a day later.

The case had triggered an outcry on the mainland and prompted authorities to probe low-priced tours as well as forced shopping activities.

Magistrate Cheung Kwan-ming said the offense was serious and Woo did not show any remorse for his conduct. Cheung further stressed that Woo, a tour guide with 20-years experience, had hurt Hong Kong's image as an international shopping destination.

He added Woo had told many lies and given contradictory explanations, trying to escape from responsibility in intentionally attacking the mainland tourists, which had also added to his sentence.

Chairman of Hong Kong's Mainland Inbound Travel Guides General Union Tse Pak-kung said the sentence was reasonable and front-line tour guides should not attack customers under any circumstances. He said he hoped this case could act as a warning to fellow tour guides in the city.

Secretary-General of Hong Kong Tourism Association Chui Ting-pong said the incident was an isolated case as the industry had long been promoting good service. He said the association is preparing written regulations on service toward tour groups to further enhance service quality.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung said he hoped the tourism sector could provide high-quality services to attract visitors and safeguard Hong Kong's reputation. He also urged the industry to join efforts in curbing unlawful activities.

Retail sales are still weak as the first five months this year had seen a drop, So said, adding the figure had suffered from the lukewarm global economic situation. So the government had launched a one-month shopping promotion activity to simulate demand for the retail goods and services.

According to the Tourism Board, the drop of the number of visitors to Hong Kong in the first two weeks of June had narrowed to 1.5 percent year-on-year, comparing with the 8.4 percent in the first five months. So hoped the tourism industry could keep the momentum and head to a more positive future.

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