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China Daily Website

Chinese tourists told to polish up on etiquette

Updated: 2013-08-01 02:15
By Zheng Xin ( China Daily)

Chinese authorities are aware of the serious consequences of improper behavior by fellow countrymen overseas and are working to provide better education for those abroad in the hopes of improving the tarnished image.

A government-organized teleconference on Wednesday called on authorities to guide people to abide by public order and social customs, respect local religious beliefs and not to litter or spit on the ground.

According to Chinese Education Minister Yuan Guiren, more than 1.55 million Chinese students study overseas, and he said it is necessary to enforce education on etiquette and civic morals.

The Ministry of Commerce vows to further cooperate with international labor organizations and to avoid improper behavior by Chinese workers abroad.

Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui pointed out the serious repercussions due to uncivilized actions.

"The uncivilized behavior of some Chinese tourists abroad, including talking loudly in public places and carving characters on cultural relics, has seriously harmed the country's image while annoying local residents," he said

"The behavior, with little respect for local culture, could also have a harsh impact on Chinese overseas students and workers while bringing unnecessary problems to the tourists themselves," he said.

According to Zhang, in addition to the quality and lack of moral restraint of some Chinese tourists, travel agencies and improper hype by the media also contribute to the obnoxious image of Chinese tourists abroad.

Authorities should guide tourists to conscientiously observe public order and social ethics while promoting respect for local religions and customs, he said.

"The travel agencies should also better prepare themselves against emergencies and disputes involving Chinese outbound tourists while further informing Chinese tourists of local practices before the trip," Zhang said.

Despite the substantial growth of Chinese outbound tourists and more affluent Chinese traveling abroad, the obnoxious behavior of some tourists, including graffiti on cultural relics and improper clothing, has come under fire and prompted wide criticism.

According to the National Tourism Administration, the number of Chinese outbound tourists has doubled since 2007 to nearly 83.2 million in 2012.

However, Chinese rank high on the list of the world's worst tourists, according to several surveys.

A poll conducted by US-based e-commerce site Living Social last year found Chinese to be the second-worst tourists in the world, second only to the US respondents themselves.

"It's embarrassing to see warnings against littering, spitting on the ground or smoking in non-smoking areas only in Chinese characters at some places of interests abroad," said Huang Chenwei, a tour guide from Jinjiang Travel, a travel agency based in Shanghai.

Some staff at scenic spots even learned some broken Chinese to remind tourists to wait for their turn in line or give way to ladies, the elderly and children, said Huang.

Yang Jinsong, a professor in international tourism from the China Tourism Academy, said that as Chinese consumers become increasingly affluent and destination countries ease visa restrictions, more Chinese get to travel. However, it takes time for them to learn foreign etiquette and customs.

"Most of the time, Chinese tourists don't mean to offend local residents. The offense is mostly due to the lack of knowledge or information," he said. "Many foreigners complain about loud talking by Chinese tourists, which, however, is a habit of the people in the country rather than being done out of spite or malice."

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