Tour group faces HK$4 million fine over price fixing

The Competition Commission has imposed a fine of more than HK$4 million on a travel agency in connection with a price-fixing case.

It also announced further action against two hotel operators that did not enter into cooperation agreements with the commission during its investigation.

The Competition Commission said that between May 2016 and May 2017, two rival agencies, Gray Line and Tink Labs, agreed to fix the prices of tourist attractions and transportation tickets sold at hotels run by nine hotel groups.

The managing director of Gray Line is Michael Wu, a former chairman of the Travel Industry Council.

Six of those hotel groups resolved the case with the commission earlier, accepting infringement notices.

The commission said on Thursday it’d entered into cooperation agreements with Gray Line and the ICGS hotel group, as they agreed to cease anti-competitive conduct.

Gray Line and ICGS face a fine of HK$4.17 million and HK$1.6 million respectively. The commission also seeks to disqualify Wu as director of the agency for three years.

As for the operators of Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees and Prudential Hotel, the commission said it has not reached cooperation agreements with them.

The Competition Tribunal will decide if the two groups breached anti-competitive rules, and whether fines would be imposed.

“With the benefits of early cooperation with the Commission clearly laid out in this case, it should send a clear message to all businesses that parties who are engaged in cartel conduct should be quick to seize opportunities to cooperate with the Commission so as to secure lenient treatment,” said Competition Commission CEO, Rasul Butt.