Government-Issued Guidelines Warn Chinese Tourists Not to Spit, Shout Or Overeat at Buffets

Last year, mainland Chinese became the top tourism spenders, dropping $102 billion in destinations around the world

Perrin Doniger

As more people than leave China to visit far away places, Chinese tourists have developed a bad rap among the international community, The New York Times reports. Among the grievances, voiced from Thailand to Paris to New York, are Chinese tourists’ tendency to spit, to speak loudly indoors, and to have no concept of how to form or respect a line. Specific recent transgressions that sparked outrage both domestically and abroad include Chinese tourists inadvertently killing a dolphin and a Chinese youth carving his name into an ancient Egyptian relic.

Lately, the Washington Post writes, China has become more self-reflective about this problem:

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang has criticized the “uncivilized behavior” of his countrymen when they travel abroad, which he says has harmed the nation’s image. He blamed the “poor quality and breeding” of the Chinese tourists.

In an attempt to find concrete means to alleviate some of the common complaints about Chinese tourists abroad, the country approved its first tourism-related law in April, which came into effect on October 1, CNN reports. The law includes 112 articles, some of which address shady tour operators within China, but including others that speak to Chinese tourists abroad.

Tourist behavior is even singled out in a couple articles of the new law.

Article 14 states: “Tourists shall observe public order and respect social morality in tourism activities, respect local customs, cultural traditions and religious beliefs, care for tourism resources, protect the ecological environment, and abide by the norms of civilized tourist behaviors.”

To make the new law more digestible, China’s National Tourism Administration issued a 64-page pamphlet on how to behave abroad, complete with cartoon-illustrated dos and don’ts. Kotaku reports a few of the suggested points of etiquette, including:

  • Don’t aggressively ask locals for pictures with you.
  • Don’t assault any animals.
  • Don’t shout in public.
  • Don’t show your bare chest in public.
  • Don’t hoard the public facilities.
  • Flush the toilet after use.
  • At a buffet, please don’t take everything in one go – they will be refilled.
  • Don’t relieve yourself in public.

NBC News elaborates on a few country-specific subtleties the pamphlet covers:

Other snippets of advice were country-specific. The guide warned Chinese visitors to Germany to only snap their fingers to beckon dogs, not humans, and that women in Spain should always wear earrings in public, or be considered effectively naked. Visitors to Japan were advised to avoid fidgeting with hair or clothes in restaurants.

For better or worse, mainland Chinese tourists are likely here to stay. Last year they became the top tourism spenders, dropping $102 billion in destinations around the world, the Times reports. The Washington Post adds that, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Chinese tourism in the States is expected to grow by 232 percent between 2010 and 2016.

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