Chinese wonder why their tourists behave so badly

Thu May 30, 2013 1:45am EDT
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By Li Hui and Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) - From faking marriage certificates to get honeymoon discounts in the Maldives to letting children defecate on the floor of a Taiwan airport, Chinese tourists have recently 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 travelling to other countries in recent years," ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on 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."   Continued...

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