Eleven outbound travel agencies in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province have made a promise that starting March 15, International Consumer Rights Day, they won't charge an extra fee for senior citizens and children to travel to Hong Kong and Macau.
For years, it has been a common practice in China's tourism industry for travel agencies to charge extra fees from tourists who have lower consumption habits, such as the elderly and children, particularly for the low-fare travel groups to Hong Kong and Macau. The fee is usually called an "age difference" fee, but it amounts to a discriminatory practice because children and elderly do not usually make large purchases when they travel.
In Wenzhou, the price for a low-fare travel group to Hong Kong and Macau is now as low as RMB1900 per person, which is even lower than then roundtrip flight tickets. In order to make money, shopping becomes a main part of the trip for agencies to recoup their losses becasue they receive commissions from the shops where their groups shop. But for those senior citizens and children who hardly do any shopping during the trip, travel agencies usually ask for an additional RMB200-400 per person.
Travel agencies in Wenzhou say that usually this extra fee is to be paid to the reception travel agencies in Hong Kong, so they don't make any money from it. But now that the agencies have removed this special fee, travel agencies might raise their prices for the Hong Kong and Macau trips.