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How should one choose a travel agency?
(02.20.2008)

When a tourist is signing up for a tour, he/she can ask the travel agency to show the Business License for a Travel Agency issued by the tourism administrative authorities and the business license issued by the industrial and commercial authorities.

If the place for signing-up and the travel agency’s headquarters are located at the same place, the tourist can ask them to provide the original licenses. If the place for signing-up is far away from the travel agency’s headquarters, the tourist should ask the travel agency to provide certificates authorized by the tourism administrative authorities. If the tourist had signed up at an unlicensed "wild horse agency" which operates illegally, the rights of the tourist are barely guaranteed.

A reminder for tourists: do not make your choice solely based on the price offered by the travel agency. Generally speaking, a travel agency will offer two types of prices: one is called a "whole-package price (containing transportation fees, lodging, food & drinks, and entrance tickets, etc.); the other is called a "partial package price" (containing just part of the total expenses or the expenses of a particular stage on the trip). Therefore, when signing up, a tourist should not just focus on choosing a travel agency with the cheapest price, but should clarify what sorts of expenses are included in the charged price, and what should be paid separately by the tourist. There are some improper travel agencies which lower their prices to ridiculously low levels to lure in tourists; all tourists should pay particular attention to these traps. A customer should confirm a travel agency’s various verbal promises in a written form by writing these promises in the tour contract.

Outbound tourists should particularly watch out for travel agencies which "play tricks". Recently, the great profit brought about by outbound tours has caused many travel agencies to scramble for customers, leading to problems of all sorts. Some travel agencies without legal qualifications for outbound tours are contracting to accept business, by means of multi-layer contracts, to gain profits illegally and dishonestly obtain customers’money. What’s more, there are still occasional problematic situations whereby tour guides operating without a license seduce customers into buying fake commodities, "shrink" the tour time and downgrade the tourist spots, do not meet the contracted standard of the condition of the transportation and lodgings, take no measures to guarantee dietetic hygiene, etc.

When shopping outside of China, tourists should carefully distinguish the authenticity and quality of goods, choose better quality goods to buy and keep the warranty and the receipt of the goods.

Outbound tourists should purchase an insurance policy prior to the start of the tour. According to the relevant regulations, the travel agency should have a tour responsibility insurance. The customer can also selectively get an individual travel insurance. If there are disputes between the tourist and the travel agency during the outbound tour, the tourist should deal with it calmly, and firstly return to China with the tour group to avoid illegal detention. Meanwhile, the tourist should keep all relevant consumption and purchasing evidence, for the convenience of appealing to organizations such as the Consumers Association, etc.