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19 Feb, 2015

China Focus: Mind your manner – tourists advised before holiday travel rush

HANGZHOU, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) — As many Chinese prepare to travel abroad for the upcoming Spring Festival holiday, tourism industry insiders are appealing travelers to mind their manners.

Ctrip, a NASDAQ-listed travel service company, published a report on Chinese travelers’ behavior abroad in January, which claimed most of the 1 million tourists using its package or independent tour services to travel overseas do abide by local regulations. According to the report, those with unwelcome behaviors accounted for no more than one in 10,000.

However, for the world’s largest outbound travel market, even one in a million is enough to cause concern.

In 2013, a Chinese tourist wrote his name on a relief carving in Luxor, Egypt. An angry Chinese passenger threw a cup of hot instant noodles at a flight attendant on an international flight last December. Chinese tourists have been fined or jailed for carrying prohibited items or purchasing wild animal products.

Spitting, littering, speaking loudly in public, wasting food and jumping queues, have also given Chinese travelers an uncultivated image abroad. Their etiquette has not caught up to their newfound wealth.

Sun Yue, a young entrepreneur from east China’s Zhejiang Province, traveled to 10 European countries with her husband two years ago. She said the consumption per person in her tour group was over 200,000 yuan (about 32,000 U.S. dollars).

“Some were acting like ‘I’ve got nothing but money.’ We rushed to buy everything we saw whenever we were inside a store. Group members cared much less about cultural relics or histories of the places we were visiting,” Sun said.

During his visit to the Maldives, Chinese President Xi Jinping imparted some friendly reminders to compatriots on how they should behave when traveling to the Indian Ocean nation.

“Don’t leave an empty water bottle where it doesn’t belong and don’t damage coral reefs,” Xi said.

It is better to do some “homework” before making a trip, said Li Xiaohua, president of France-based Mandarin Voyages.

According to the Zhejiang branch of China International Travel Service (CITS), brochures and face-to-face communication are used to inform their clients of the customs and religious habits of their travel destinations.

“As a tour guide, our behavior has a great influence on tourists. Before reminding them not to do this or that, we should first be good global citizens,” said Zhou Xiaolin, a tour guide with the CITS Zhejiang.

Jin Jing with the marketing department of CITS Zhejiang said the company has seen the number of outbound trips increase 20 to 30 percent year on year for the Spring Festival holiday, which starts Feb. 18.

“Japan and South Korea are still among the most popular destinations. Island countries in Southeast Asia are also priorities for Chinese tourists due to the warm weather there. Taking parents for a family tour is another growing trend,” Jin said.

According to the National Tourism Administration, Chinese people took more than 100 million outbound tours in 2014, hitting a record high.

Many countries are taking measures to attract Chinese tourists. The validity period of travel visas to the U.S. was extended from one year to 10 years in November 2014. France also eased its visa procedures in 2014 for Chinese travelers, who may now obtain visas within 48 hours instead of 10 working days. Egypt launched direct flights to link its tourist cities in the south and four Chinese cities in November 2014.

The Republic of Korea has just launched its “China Tourism Year” in Seoul. India has also scheduled a tourism year targeting Chinese travelers for 2016.