Beijing chides its ‘unruly’ tourists in new guidebook

‘CIVILIZED TOURISM’::China has produced a guidebook in an attempt to improve the behavior of its tourists following many complaints about etiquette


Thu, Oct 03, 2013 - Page 6

Chinese tourists should not pick their noses in public, pee in swimming pools or steal airplane life jackets, China’s image-conscious authorities have warned in a handbook in their latest effort to counter unruly behaviour.

The National Tourism Administration has publicized its 64-page Guidebook for Civilised Tourism — with illustrations to accompany its list of dos and don’ts — on its Web site ahead of a “Golden Week” public holiday that started on Tuesday.

As Chinese tourists increasingly travel abroad, they have developed a stereotype of “uncivilized behavior,” which Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang (汪洋) said in May had “damaged the image of the Chinese people.”

Several countries, including debt-laden European nations, have eased visa restrictions to attract increasingly affluent Chinese tourists, but reports have also emerged of complaints about etiquette.

A Chinese woman who in February had her son relieve himself in a bottle in a crowded Hong Kong restaurant sparked an outpouring of anger online, with some hong Kongers deriding mainlanders as “locusts.”

The government has previously issued pithy guidelines telling tourists how to behave, but the latest booklet elaborates in great detail. It warns travelers not to pick their noses in public, to keep their nose hair neatly trimmed and, if they have to pick their teeth, never to use their fingers.

It also urges them not to occupy public toilets for long periods of time or leave footprints on the toilet seat. Nor should they pee in swimming pools.

Travelers should not drink soup straight from the bowl or make slurping sounds when eating noodles, it warns. After taking a flight they must leave the life jackets underneath their seat, the rulebook says, explaining that “if a dangerous situation arises then someone else will not have a life jacket.”

A Hong Kong tour guide surnamed Zhang said his firm had given him a copy of the rules at the start of the seven-day holiday.

Before this he said they had distributed a much briefer set of guidelines which fit on a single sheet of paper.

“I feel things need to be improved,” he said, standing in a city square packed with Chinese tourists.

The handbook also dispenses country-specific advice: Chinese visitors to Germany should only snap their fingers to beckon dogs, not humans. Women in Spain should always wear earrings in public — or else be considered effectively naked, while diners in Japan are instructed not to play with their clothes or hair.

A 33-year-old tourist visiting Hong Kong from Anhui Province complained that the guidelines are too many and too specific.

“You cannot possibly look through all of the rules before you go traveling. Also the rules are different in different places,” he said. “I think it’s not very feasible.”