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Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022

Hong Kong steps up measures to squeeze out touts of leisure facilities

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department announced on Monday that four additional measures will be implemented on November 1 in order to stamp out the festering and frustrating practice of touting when booking public leisure venues.
The first measure will see the period applicable to the suspension of booking rights of hirers who twice failed to take up the booked session or are not present during the use of the booked sessions extended.

The period applicable to the above breaches will be extended from 30 consecutive days to 60 consecutive days so as to strengthen the deterrent effect of penalties on hirers who violate this regulation.

Another measure will see hirers who are found to have engaged in unauthorized transfers of user permits having their suspension of booking rights for fee-charging recreation and sports facilities extended from 180 days to 360 days.

Separately, the department adjusted the booking arrangement for canceled sessions of its facilities.

With effect from November 1, the booking time of canceled sessions one day after cancellation by hirers will be adjusted from 7.30am to 7am through the Leisure Link e-Services System, enabling the public to make bookings simultaneously with other sports facilities commencing booking at 7am on a first-come, first-served basis under the principle of fairness.

As for the booking of natural and artificial turf football pitches, the new measure will require Leisure Link patrons to provide the patron numbers of four other users when submitting balloting applications for the pitches. The hirer and three of the other users shall sign in and should be present during the use of the booked session.

A department spokesman said that they will closely monitor the effectiveness of the new measures and introduce more anti-touting measures when necessary.

Meanwhile, the department said they are developing a new intelligent sports and recreation services booking and information system to replace the existing Leisure Link computerized booking system.

“To further combat touting activities and prevent the abuse of facilities, the new system will include a new function of allocating facilities by ballot on top of the first-come, first-served allocation mechanism.

“To gauge public views on types of leisure facility, sessions/hours and implementation priority for balloting, an online survey will be held from November 1 to 30.” A department statement wrote.
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