Leading tourism identity slams Chinese tourist fee claim
A LEADING tourism identity has hit back at claims rogue operators are ripping off Chinese tourists by charging them to visit public places that are free of charge.
In a story in last week's The Cairns Post, alleged rorts included holidaymakers being charged to visit botanic gardens, beaches, picnic sites and other public places.
But Angela Freeman, of Hartley's Crocodile Adventures and the Cairns Tropical Zoo, said the claims were not true. She said tour operators who took groups of Chinese and other tourists to the botanic gardens at Edge Hill and national parks were required to pay a fee.
Ms Freeman said the tourists were not adverse to paying to take a tour bus to the botanic gardens and for a Chinese-speaking guide.
The tour operator also had to pay an annual fee and to take groups to national parks, including the Daintree and the Mossman Gorge.
"There is a cost involved and the customer pays," Ms Freeman said.
"Of course, the free and independent traveller doesn't pay, but they don't get taken there nor have a guide who provides a full commentary," she said.
A council spokeswoman said a permit was required to visit the botanic gardens and the annual fee ranged from $462.80 for fewer than 10,000 passengers a year to $2029.96 for 25,000-plus. Permits also are required for the Esplanade foreshore, Crystal Cascades and the Babinda Boulders.
"Tour operators are asked to visit the administration office (at the botanic gardens) upon arrival with a group. A non-compliant operator would not generally be prosecuted, but would be encouraged to apply for a permit, which also details public liability status," she said.
A spokeswoman for state National Parks Minister Steve Dickson said tour operators needed a permit to take people into national parks.
A commercial activity permit costs $224.50 a year and in addition tour operators pay daily fees to take groups to national parks.
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No rort: A leading local tourism identity has rubbished claims that operators are ripping tourists off by charging them access to free public places.