NGO WildAid Hong Kong revealed this week that at least two stores suspected to be dealing in ivory have been given membership of the Quality Tourism Services Association (QTSA).
Alex Hofford, wildlife campaigner for WildAid Hong Kong, condemned the QTSA for allowing membership to the two stores, especially after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s policy address. He said to HKFP “Now that the the Hong Kong government have agreed to explore ways of phasing out the local ivory trade, it is certainly no longer appropriate for any Hong Kong Government department or statutory body to continue promoting the local ivory industry.”
Membership is given to stores which embody the QTSA mission statement of “setting high ethical standards and enhancing customer satisfaction.”
It is unknown when the two stores, Star Company in Central and Foochow Lacquer Company in Kowloon, became members of the QTSA or how long they have been engaged in ivory trade.
— WildAid Hong Kong (@WildAidHK) January 26, 2016
The QTSA told HKFP on Thursday that it is already in talks with WildAid Hong Kong on the issue.
Meanwhile, the HKTB told HKFP that it “needed to investigate and learn more about the case first,” when asked whether they have any plans to punish stores that sell ivory in the future.
In response to the actions of the QTSA and HKTB, Hofford said: “we are glad that the Quality Tourism Service Association is looking into the issue and do look forward to the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s follow-up action to stop endorsing this smuggling racket of gargantuan proportions.”
Currently, trading in ivory is legal in Hong Kong. However, Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying called for a ban on ivory sales in Hong Kong in his policy address earlier this month.
It is unclear at this point whether the HKTB and its partner, QTSA, will begin taking action targeting ivory trading stores.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department maintains a list of ivory traders in Hong Kong. More than 100 tonnes of ivory are in merchant inventories, according to a report by WildAid Hong Kong.