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March 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 39, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Chinese Price Gouging and DCS Too

from the March, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

If you weren't diving recently at Hainan Island, a big Chinese tourist destination in the South China Sea, be thankful. A report found that dive operators and travel agencies were duping tourists into paying way more than normal, raking in sales commissions as high as 80 percent, during the country's Spring Festival holiday last month. They were able to do so by forcing divers to take "underwater photographs."

The diving packages, priced at an average of US$72, would usually include "some photos," but some operators would often make visitors pay more for separate photo packages that were priced differently, between $58 for three photos and $125 for 24 photos. Those who refused to pay for the separate photo packages alleged they were taken into the water "abruptly," without being taught how to equalize when changing depths."Without learning how to release the pressure every few meters, the tourist would get decompression sickness quickly and request to go back up within just a few minutes," dive guide Wu Jingmin told CCTV. "When they ask why the dive was so short, the dive instructor would say 'You were the one who requested to come up.'"

Officials vowed to punish any tour guides, travel agents and tour operators engaged in price gouging over the holidays, but we think they ought to punish Wu Jingmin, who thinks his tourists are requesting to surface because they have DCS. Please, give us all a break.

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