From Tuesday, tourists will be able to cross out unwanted stops, such as shopping centers, from itineraries when booking overseas trips with local travel agencies.
This is part of the new standards on overseas tours unveiled by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Monday. They are designed to prevent conflicts between tour operators and tourists.
Under the rules, travel agencies will not require tourists to join unwanted shopping trips. They will also inform tourists beforehand if they should tip guides and drivers. All tour options will be transparent and clearly understandable to prevent disputes during or after travels.
Unwanted yet compulsive trips, sudden demand for tips, and vague information on travel options have frustrated tourists on overseas vacations or caused disputes.
“This is the first time that the government and travel companies agreed to make tour packages transparent. Providing clear information will reduce conflicts between tour operators and travelers. It will serve to win trust from customers and improve the business environment of the travel industry,” said Gwon Byeong-jeon, director of the overseas travel center of the Korea Tourism Organization.
The standards have been jointly hammered out by the ministry, the Korea Tourism Organization, the Korea Consumer Agency and the Korea Association of Travel Agents. Twelve major travel agencies, including Hana Tour, Mode Tour and Lotte Tour, announced that they would participate in the new scheme.
Travel companies should inform customers of as many details as possible on travel itineraries. Details include a list of available hotels, a specific hotel if confirmed, tips that each tourist must pay to guides or drivers, departure and arrival times, and the cost of travel packages.
Travel agencies will also be required to indicate the safety situation of destinations along with the tour programs. They should inform tourists of alternative options to choose when they do not want guides.
By Lee Woo-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)