An article and several editorials published this week in newspaper China Daily heralded new regulations aimed at diminishing the negative perception of Chinese tourists vacationing abroad. In a parallel announcement, the National Tourism Bureau (NTB) revealed it will now maintain a database of travelers exhibiting "uncivilized behavior".
The new edict, dubbed the "Interim Tourist Uncivilized Behavior Record", outlines conduct deemed detrimental to China's reputation. It includes:
Disrupting order on buses, trams, trains, ships, aircraft or other public transportation; the destruction of public bathrooms or other facilities; violating social customs or habits at sightseeing destinations; damaging or destroying items of cultural heritage; participating in gambling or pornography [prostitution]; and other circumstances that seriously disrupt orderly travel.
The NTB will compile dossiers on people who violate the new regulations or otherwise exhibit "poor moral quality and habits" while on vacation. Records will be kept for a period of two years, although what punishment serial violators may expect to face has not been made public. However, when necessary, individual 'uncivilized behavior' files will be shared with law enforcement, transportation and immigration officials.
Establishment of the list came hard on the heels of internationally published accounts of Chinese tourists exhibiting questionable behavior while traveling during Tomb Sweeping Festival. The most sensational of these were reports that three Chinese men were arrested while on vacation in Japan for taking "up-skirt" photos of women on the subway.
It is not currently clear if the national database of bad behavior covers actions inside China or is only international in scope. If it does include domestic actions, it may grow long indeed. In just the past two years, Yunnan province alone has witnessed a slew of bizarre and unscrupulous outbursts — many of them centered on Kunming Changshui International Airport.
These include a Kunming Airlines passenger jokingly telling stewardesses he had a bomb, 30 angry travelers storming a runway and, most infamously, a Yunnan official caught on camera demolishing a check-in kiosk after he and his family arrived late a second time for their flight.
How the database is used and how effective it proves to be will go a long way in addressing a problem experienced by other countries ranging from the United States to Russia. Even Xi Jinping has expressed frustration. In a public admonition made recently to tourists, China's president was quoted as saying "Don't throw water bottles everywhere, don't destroy people's coral reefs. Eat fewer instant noodles and more local seafood."
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