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6 Oct, 2015

Chinese Palace Museum cracks down on visitor misbehavior

By Sun Xiaochen

Beijing, (China Daily) 2015-10-05 – Following a spate of uncivilized behavior related to the tourism market, the Palace Museum has blacklisted 2,500 visitors since June for misbehaving, part of an effort aimed at protecting ancient relics as well as restoring market order by eliminating illegal vendors and ticket scalpers.

As the weeklong National Day holiday reaches its peak with a huge number of visitors at iconic spots such as the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, improper behavior such as scrawling graffiti on historical relics, scalping tickets and littering have drawn media attention and criticism from the public.

Palace Museum's crackdown takes aim at visitor misbehavior

Visitors wait in line to buy tickets for the Palace Museum in Beijing on Sunday. [Photo by Chen Xiaogen/China Daily]

To deter such bad behavior, the Palace Museum implemented a real-name ticket purchasing system in June and has since banned around 2,500 people who have been linked to misconduct from buying tickets or entering the site for an undisclosed period of time.

Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, said that the blacklist system has worked well in curbing misbehavior and that a wider range of improper conduct will be targeted in the near future.

“The system was introduced mainly against ticket scalpers, illegal tourist guides and tour advertising distributors. It has had its expected effect,” Shan was quoted by Beijing-based Legal Evening News on Sunday as saying.

“Some other misbehavior such as scribbling graffiti and carving at public facilities, as well as selling unauthorized souvenirs, will also be marked by the system, and violators will be banned from visiting the site,” he said.

The Palace Museum, which has grappled with overwhelming crowds for years, introduced a policy before the holidays capping the number of daily visitors at 80,000, of which 50,000 must be booked in advance online using visitors’ identification numbers.

On Friday, the 30,000 remaining tickets offered at on-site box offices were sold out within two hours, with long lines waiting outside the main gate.

Legal measures sought

Without law enforcement powers, the cultural relic protection units such as that at the Palace Museum have limited capability to punish unruly behavior, so more legal measures should be introduced, said experts.

Zhao Li, a lawyer from Jingshi law firm in Beijing, said: “We need to increase punishments for those who damage cultural relics. Perhaps they should even face a criminal penalty.”

A number of incidents involving visitor misbehavior have raised public concerns while tarnishing Chinese tourists’ reputation at home and abroad.

In early September, two lovers carved the names Zhang Tao and Liu Ya, as well as the shape of a heart, on a 300-year-old bronze vat at the Palace Museum.

The museum management team later reported the incident to Beijing police, who suggested that the couple turn themselves in. The couple have not yet stepped forward.

Shan, director of the Palace Museum, said the restoration of the carved bronze vat has been finished and security monitoring will be strengthened inside the museum.