Chinese wonder why their tourists behave so badly

Chinese shoppers stand with shopping bags on a sidewalk along 5th Avenue in New York City, April 4, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Chinese shoppers stand with shopping bags on a sidewalk along Fifth Avenue in New York City. Credit: Reuters

From faking marriage certificates to get honeymoon discounts in the Maldives to letting children defecate on the floor of a Taiwanese airport, Chinese tourists have found themselves at the center of controversy and anger.

Thanks to microblogging sites in China, accounts of tourists behaving badly spread like wildfire across the country, provoking disgust, ire and soul-searching.

While in the past such reports might have been dismissed as attacks on the good nature of Chinese travelers, people in the world’s second-largest economy are starting to ask why their countrymen and women are so badly behaved.

“Objectively speaking, our tourists have relatively low-civilized characters,” said Liu Simin, researcher with the Tourism Research Centre of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“Overseas travel is a new luxury; Chinese who can afford it compare with each other and want to show off,” Liu said. “Many Chinese tourists are just going abroad, and are often inexperienced and unfamiliar with overseas rules and norms.”

When a story broke recently that a 15-year-old Chinese boy had scratched his name into a 3,500-year-old temple in Egypt’s Luxor, the furor was such that questions were even asked about it at a foreign ministry news briefing.

“There are more and more Chinese tourists traveling to other countries in recent years,” ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Monday. “We hope that this tourism will improve friendship with foreign countries, and we also hope that Chinese tourists will abide by local laws and regulations and behave themselves.”

Other incidents have attracted similar anger, including that of a mother who let her children defecate on the floor of Kaohsiung airport in Taiwan, just feet from a toilet. She did put newspaper down first.

Embarrassment over the behavior of some Chinese tourists has reached the highest levels of government, which has tried to project an image of a benign and cultured emerging power whose growing wealth can only benefit the world.

‘Terrible racket’

This month, Vice Premier Wang Yang admonished the “uncivilized behavior” of certain Chinese tourists, in remarks widely reported by state media and reflecting concern about how the increasingly image-conscious country is seen overseas.

“They make a terrible racket in public places, scrawl their names on tourist sites, ignore red lights when crossing the road and spit everywhere. This damages our national image and has a terrible effect,” Wang said.

The central government has reissued guidelines on its main website on what it considers acceptable behavior for tourists, including dressing properly, waiting in lines and not shouting.

To be sure, the influx of newly wealthy Chinese traveling around world has bought economic benefits widely welcomed in many countries, and many tourists are well-behaved and respectful.

More than 83 million Chinese tourists traveled overseas last year, and Chinese expenditure on travel abroad reached $102 billion in 2012, the highest in the world according to the U.N. World Tourism Organization.

By 2020, about 200 million Chinese are expected to take an overseas trip every year.

Criticism of bad behavior has in the past been leveled at American, Japanese and Taiwanese tourists, when they were also enjoying new wealth and going abroad for the first time.

Eventually, experts say, the criticism will fade.

“Traveling is a learning experience for tourists,” said Wang Wanfei, a tourism professor at Zhejiang University. “They learn how to absorb local culture in the process, and get rid of their bad tourist behavior.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Turkey: Voting begins in country's first direct presidential…

Some 53 million people are able to vote in the election, including 2.8 million citizens abroad. Until now, Turkish presidents were elected by parliament.

News

Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia…

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El YaakoubiTRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around…

Breaking: News

Russia mad about sanctions, says U.S. contributing to…

Russia reacted angrily on Saturday to additional sanctions imposed by the European Union over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, saying they would hamper cooperation…

National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.