Are Chinese Tourists a Boon or a Bane?
By Wen Xin Lim

Are Chinese Tourists a Boon or a Bane?

Oct. 12, 2016  |   Blog   |  0 comments

The Golden Week, a nickname given to China’s seven-day national holiday, commenced on October 1, 2016. It witnessed a large number of tourists flocking to tourist attractions locally and in other countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.

Over the years, as Chinese income and purchasing power increased, the number of China’s outbound tourists has leapfrogged and their spending power has brought great fortune to the destination countries. According to China’s National Tourism Administration, China’s outbound tourists exceeded 100 million and spent USD 155 billion in 2014. Besides popular travel destinations, Chinese tourists today are also open to exploring new places which offer exotic experiences.

Specifically, the Quartz reported that :

There was a 3,500 percent year-on-year increase in visa applications to Morocco processed by Ctrip, a Nasdaq-listed travel agency based in Shanghai, China, according to a 2016 National Day Holiday travel prediction report by Ctrip and the state-backed China Travel Academy. The United Kingdom, Cambodia, Russia, and New Zealand will each see a 60 percent year-on-year increase, according to the report.

Eyeing this great opportunity during the peak travel season, countries and retailers are offering full-fledged welcomes to the big-spending Chinese tourists. Japan’s Foreign Ministry just announced plans to relax visa rules for Chinese visitors in April. Businesses are quick to adopt models that cater to the needs of Chinese tourists. Retail operators such as The Body Shop launched China’s e-wallet Alipay service to offer a convenient and secure payment method for Chinese tourists in three major London stores. The L’Oréal-owned brand’s new service allows thousands of Chinese shoppers to pay for their shopping using the Scan Alipay app.

While Chinese tourists are welcomed due to their increased spending power, their ill manners and rude behaviors unfortunately put the host countries in a difficult position and also tarnish China’s reputation as a whole. News of Chinese tourists defecating on street, vandalizing historical sites, driving recklessly, cutting queues, speaking loudly, spitting in public, throwing hot water at flight attendants, and etc., have been reported.

In Thailand, the tourism office distributed etiquette leaflets to all Chinese tourists visiting the country. Thailand’s central Chinese TV station even produced a series of cartoons, “Please Understand Chinese Tourists,” asking locals to be more tolerant towards Chinese tourists.

In Switzerland, extra train carriages for “Asian guests” were officially launched by Rigi Railway, which a local Swiss newspaper clearly stated were especially meant for Chinese tourists who are “too loud and too rude.”

In South Korea, more than 11,000 people have signed a petition for the visa waiver privilege to be revoked for Chinese tourists to enter Jeju Island, reported The Korea Times. Since the visa waiver system was implemented by the Jeju provincial government in 2008, a series of violent crimes has been committed by Chinese tourists, reported JoongAng Ilbo. The Korea Times reported that 347 foreigners had committed crimes in Jeju between January to July this year, a nearly 60 percent increase compared with the same period last year. Among them, nearly 70 percent of the criminals were Chinese nationals.

As China rises as a big power, witnessing an increasing strength in political, military, and economic aspects, it has not been very successful in rising as a civilized state. While political, military, and economic strengths define the hard power of a country, it is the culture, etiquette, social norms, civilized behaviors, and proper manners that count when it comes to people-to-people exchanges and daily communications. Take Japan as an example, while Japan has committed mistakes in the past, the Japanese are lauded today for their cultural etiquette which places huge emphases on loyalty, politeness, personal responsibility, and collectivism. Sad to say, while China is renowned for valuing rituals and ceremonies since ancient times (礼仪之邦), this culture has slowly decayed over time. As actions speak louder than words, for China to truly rise as a great superpower, it requires not only state responsibility but also individual and civic responsibility for the world to be more accepting of the Chinese community.

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