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3 May, 2014

Chinese tourists urged to change “loud, rude, self-centered” behaviour

Beijing, (Xinhua) May 02, 2014 – With China on holiday for International Workers Day, tourist agency managers and sociologists want Chinese tourists to learn to avoid embarrassing behavior.

Li Zhongguang, of the China Tourism Academy, believes it is time for everyone to have a global vision and think about the effects of their behavior on the world.

When the economy was still planned, traveling abroad was a luxury and subject to strict government scrutiny. The chosen few who were endorsed to see the outside world were either highly educated or very successful. These people were humble in demeanor and acutely aware what were proper ways of behaving in foreign countries, Li said.

Today, lots of Chinese can afford a trip overseas, but their knowledge remains deficient and many tourists are unaware, or claim to be unaware, that some of their habits are unacceptable to foreigners, said he.

“Chinese travelers abroad are seen as loud, rude, self-centered and lacking in self-discipline,” said Li.

Zha Qizhi, deputy chief of China’s Sanqing Mountain resort in Jiangxi Province, agrees. Tourists don’t misbehave on purpose but are just unaware that their behavior is intolerable in other countries.

“Tourists travelling abroad for the first time lack cross-cultural communication skills. They assume things tolerated in China are also acceptable in other countries,” said Zha.

Talking loudly in public spaces, spitting in the streets, ignoring the queue and carving names on ancient monuments are just as improper in China as anywhere else, but people seem to get away with it here, he said. When you do that kind of thing in a foreign country, it is completely unacceptable.

Since the government wants to improve China’s soft power and cultivate a cultured and friendly national image, Chinese tourists have become a laughing stock around the world, symbolic of the whole country, Zha added.

“Chinese people are polite, hospital and thoughtful hosts, and now they need to learn to be good guests,” said he.

Mass outbound tourism is still new in China. It was not until 1999 when the country enforced seven days of National Day holiday that the average Chinese started traveling on a large scale.

The purpose of enforcing the holiday was to boost tourism and consumption. Few people at that time expected the kind of engagement of the average Chinese has with the outside world now, noted Li Zhongguang.

China now has 150 countries and regions as its outbound tourism destinations. In 2013, nearly 100 million overseas trips were made. In 2014, 110 million Chinese are expected to travel abroad.

With the mocking publicity given to inappropriate behavior by tourists abroad, the government and legislators are all too aware of the importance of teaching the public a lesson in manners.

Last October, the first tourism law came into effect, requiring tourists to observe public order and respect local cultures. This April, China National Tourism Administration and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce jointly issued an upgraded model contract in accordance with the new tourism law. The contract stipulates for the first time that travel agencies have the right to terminate contracts if tourists are involved in illegal activities or break social ethics, no matter whether at home or abroad.

Wang Ming, manager of Jiahua Cultural International Travel Agency, welcomes the new contracts.

“Tighter legislation and contracts show resolve to improve tourists’ behavior but implementation is essential,” he said.

Wang believes that news reports and criticism of uncivilized behavior are necessary for tourists to reflect upon their habits.

“I think many more tourists have realized that the rest of the world is largely depending on them to get to know China, and they are changing,” said he.

“I believe with more Chinese getting in touch with a foreign culture through travelling, positive change will happen, but changing people’s behavior is not an easy task,” said Li Zhongguang.