About the Travel Industry Compensation Fund

Protection under the TICF and the relevant legal provisions

i. Scope of protection under the TICF
ii. Examples not covered by protection under the TICF
iii. Examples of outbound fares
iv. The requirement of travel agents to contribute to the TICF in respect of outbound fares

i. Scope of protection under the TICF

The Travel Industry Compensation Fund (TICF) provides protection to outbound travellers who may claim:

(a) an ex gratia payment equivalent to 90% of the loss of outbound fares (commonly arisen from the default of a licensed travel agent); and
(b) reimbursement up to HK$300,000 in ex gratia payment, in case of injury or death in an accident during an outbound activity provided or organized by a licensed travel agent, of expenses incurred in the place of accident, subject to the maximum limit for each item:

Medical expenses incurred in the place of accident (outside Hong Kong) up to HK$100,000
Expenses incurred in the place of accident (outside Hong Kong) in the funeral or return of the dead body or ashes to Hong Kong up to HK$100,000
Expenses incurred by relatives of the outbound traveller in visiting the place of accident for a purpose connected with the traveller’s death or injury up to HK$100,000
(up to HK$25,000 per relative)

Under the Travel Agents Ordinance (TAO) (Cap. 218), an outbound traveller means a person who has paid to a licensed travel agent for any two or all of the following services:

  (a) carriage from Hong Kong to places outside Hong Kong;
  (b) accommodation outside Hong Kong;
  (c) arrangements for an activity outside Hong Kong (by a licensed travel agent).

Please visit the Department of Justice's Hong Kong e-Legislation on the Internet for details of the relevant provisions, including section 32A of the TAO and the Travel Industry Compensation Fund (Amount of Ex gratia Payments and Financial Penalty) Rules (Cap. 218, sub. leg. E)

ii. Examples not covered by protection under the TICF

As regards the protection against loss of outbound fares, the following are examples not covered by the TICF:

  • Purchase of air, ferry or bus tickets alone;
  • Purchase of hotel accommodation alone.

The protection in respect of outbound accidents does not cover:

  • Medical expenses not arising from injury or death caused by an accident (e.g. illness);
  • Injury or death caused by an accident in an activity which is not provided or organized by a licensed travel agent;
  • Individual travellers who have an accident while staying behind after a group tour.

iii. Examples of outbound fares

To qualify as outbound fares for the purpose of TICF protection, the fare items are invariably related to any two categories of (a) carriage from Hong Kong to places outside Hong Kong, (b) accommodation outside Hong Kong and (c) arrangements for an activity not ancillary to (a) and (b) but taking place outside Hong Kong.

Some common examples are:

  (a) air-ticket / cruise-ticket fares, supplements for seat-upgrading, air passenger departure tax, visa application fees, fuel surcharge, travel insurance, airport security tax and airport construction fees, etc;
  (b) accommodation / room charges, supplements for single rooms, room-upgrading, additional beds and breakfasts and similar charges in case of boarding on a cruise, etc;
  (c) arrangements for activities, which are not ancillary to carriage / accommodation (common examples are admission fees for theme parks and attractions and charges for city touring).

The fare for a cruise trip departing from Hong Kong with accommodation on board is considered an outbound fare. The fare for a cruise trip not departing from Hong Kong is also considered an outbound fare if it includes accommodation on board and excursion / on-shore activity outside Hong Kong.

iv. The requirement of travel agents to contribute to the TICF in respect of outbound fares

Travel agents are required under sections 32H and 32I of the TAO to pay in the form of levies to the TICF and the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong. Levies are payable in respect of every outbound fare received by travel agents and of amounts equivalent to certain percentages of such outbound fares. The applicable percentages are specified by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development by notice published in the Gazette.

The TICF levy has been suspended since 3 July 2009. Starting from the same date, the Council levy is 0.15% of every outbound fare.