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 December 19, 2003
Hong Kong Tourism Board Quality Tourism Services Scheme

 The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) officially launched the "Quality Tourism Services" Scheme (QTS Scheme) Enhancement (19 December) to further raise overall service standards and visitors' confidence, especially in the areas of dining and shopping in Hong Kong. By tightening the entry requirements for applicant merchants, providing clear product information to consumers, strengthening the complaint handling system of the Scheme and reinforcing the surveillance of participating merchants, the HKTB will ensure that visitors will have an even more satisfying experience in the city.

The launch ceremony at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre was performed by The Hon Henry Tang, GBS, JP, Financial Secretary of the Hong Kong SAR; The Hon Mrs Selina Chow, GBS, OBE, JP, Chairman of the HKTB; He Guangwei, Chairman of China National Tourism Administration (CNTA); and Sun Gang, Vice Chairman of CNTA. Joining the officiating guests to witness this significant milestone in the QTS Scheme were Eva Cheng, JP, Commissioner for Tourism and Clara Chong, HKTB Executive Director, while Directors of various provincial tourism bureaux of Mainland China were also present to demonstrate their support for the Scheme.

HKTB Chairman The Hon Mrs Selina Chow said that the Board had continuously strived to enhance the experience of visitors by elevating the service standards of Hong Kong. "Through surveys and consultations with the retail and restaurant industries and professional bodies, we have evaluated the QTS Scheme and developed improvement strategies. The QTS Scheme Enhancement will offer visitors stronger assurances and protection and hence increase their confidence in spending in Hong Kong," she explained.

The HKTB's comprehensive strategies for enhancing the QTS Scheme include firstly, tightening the entry requirements by improving the assessment criteria. Applicant merchants are required to comply with a set of prerequisite conditions, which further specify that there should be no sale of fake goods, no infringement of intellectual property rights and no misrepresentation of product information.

Secondly, all QTS merchants are required to provide clear and sufficient product information to consumers. For jewellery merchants, the HKTB has adopted the requirements set by the industry. In sum, they must provide clear descriptions including the price of the merchandise on their sales memos or receipts so as to reinforce the protection for consumers. For instance, the weight, standard of fineness, unit price, workmanship charges and commission must be listed for pure gold and pure platinum products. As for diamonds, the carat, clarity, cut and colour of natural diamonds of 50 points and above should be listed upon the customerís request.

Merchants of watches and audio/video and electronic products are subject to even more stringent requirements under the QTS Scheme than those set by their own industries. In sum, their sales memos or receipts must be itemised clearly, with specific descriptions such as the brand name and model number of the products. In addition, they are required to display and provide clear written indication of their refund, exchange and warranty policies at their premises.

As the value-added criteria for gaining additional assessment scores, QTS merchants are encouraged to provide visitors with product delivery services, for example, by courier or by post; product ordering services, for example, by mail order, catalogue ordering or web ordering; and product catalogues for customersí browsing.

Thirdly, a more comprehensive and effective complaint handling mechanism that features a more systematic and efficient complaint classification, mediation and resolution system is being adopted for handling and evaluating complaints from customers.

Fourthly, professional consultants appointed by the HKTB will conduct professional assessment and surveillance visits to the applicant and accredited merchants to maintain the quality assurance of the Scheme. This includes monitoring the entry assessment standards, ensuring compliance by accredited merchants and preventing illegal use of the QTS logo.

The HKTB has already designed a new decal for the QTS Scheme Enhancement, which specifies that the accredited merchant is a "quality shop or restaurant recognised by the HKTB" so as to increase visitors' confidence in the accredited outlets.

Mrs Chow said that the HKTB would strictly monitor the standards of quality service provided by the QTS merchants so that visitors could enjoy a truly memorable experience in Hong Kong. "We will reinforce local and overseas publicity of the Scheme. As well as bringing in more shopping and dining merchants to provide greater variety and choices for visitors, we will step up our promotional efforts to enhance visitorsí awareness of the Scheme before arrival and encourage their patronage of the accredited outlets in town. We hope this will in turn increase the visitors' spending and the contribution of the tourism sector to Hong Kong's economy," she added.