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Tourist group has passports, luggage stolen after arriving in Rome

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-17 07:52

A group of Chinese tourists whose luggage and passports were stolen from a bus in Rome just hours after arriving in the Italian capital have yet to decide whether to continue their vacation, according to Ctrip, the online agency they used to book the trip.

Ctrip said on Tuesday it is still waiting for the result of an investigation by the Italian police.

"The group's tour guide immediately reported the theft to the police, but we haven't heard of any progress in the investigation," said Gao Jie, public relations manager of Ctrip.

"The group is still in Rome and we're waiting for them to let us know whether they want to continue the trip or return to Shanghai. The guide has been talking with them and will let us know what they decide," she said.

The group of 16 Chinese and their guide left Shanghai on May 13 and arrived in Rome the next day. They each paid nearly 20,000 yuan ($2,900) for a 13-day tour of Italy, Switzerland and France.

They were picked up at the airport by a minibus from a local travel agency and started the tour in downtown Rome. They were to check in at a hotel at day's end.

But when they gathered as scheduled, they were astonished to hear the driver tell them that all the luggage - more than 20 pieces - on the minibus had been stolen. All of their passports were in the tour guide's luggage.

The driver said he had been away for an hour for lunch. The tourists told Shanghai Morning Post that no evidence of a break-in was found.

Gao said the driver was a full-time employee of a licensed local travel agency, which she declined to name.

"The tour guide took the tourists to the Chinese embassy in Rome and they got temporary passports. He also gave them enough money to buy daily necessities, and arranged for their meals and accommodations," Gao said.

The company has suggested a compensation plan, including 1,300 euros ($1,439) in cash for each tourist, as well as upgraded accommodations and a refund for any skipped events. It said it will work with the police and insurance companies to recover and reimburse losses.

It will also cover application fees for new passports, and will send a representative to Rome to handle medical issues.

"We're talking with the tourists to reach consensus on a sincere and reasonable compensation plan," Gao said.

Some internet users said theft is rampant in some European countries.

"When I was traveling in Europe with a tour group last year, our guide kept our passports in a bag tied to his back to prevent theft," one netizen wrote.

In July, a group of 43 Chinese tourists lost their passports in Sweden. The passports were in the tour guide's purse when it was stolen.

zhouwenting@chinadaily.com.cn

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