If you’ve paid thousands to travel half around the world to Paris, would you spare an extra 12 euros for a ticket to see some of the world’s greatest collections?
For some Chinese tourists, the answer is evidently no. The newest scandal involving Chinese visitors abroad is that the Louvre has fallen victim to counterfeit tickets from China. Belgian customs recently intercepted 3,600 high-quality fake tickets, hidden in a package from China at the end of August.
France 24 reports:
“The tickets appear to have been manufactured in China and sold to Chinese tour guides accompanying groups through the museum.
The Louvre, one of the French capital’s most visited tourist attractions, confirmed to FRANCE 24 that that counterfeit entry passes, worth upwards of 36 euros each, had started appearing at the museum from the beginning of August.
Dozens of Chinese tourists were found to be holding fake tickets of varying quality throughout the month.”
However, quality has improved since the first batch were spotted on August 12, and the newest counterfeits are “in every way identical to the genuine article,” according to a spokesman for the Louvre. So far, the counterfeit master has not been identified, but several mainland Chinese tourist agencies seem to be involved.
Global Times emphasizes that although the package was sent from China, people need to keep in mind that their usage may not have intended for Chinese tourists only. An anonymous member of staff at the Louvre told a Global Times reporter that the Louvre welcomed Chinese tourists, but would be cracking down on the fake tickets scam.
Long Xuewu, from the French Chinese Tourism Association, has condemned the forgeries: “I have been in France for 20 years and this is the first time I’ve heard of such a thing. The fake ticket scam will negatively affect the Chinese tourism industry. Tourists and local tourist agencies are direct victims.”
The Louvre, on the other hand, suspects that these incidents belong to a growing network of organized crime which specifically targets French tourist attractions. Although the face value of a single Louvre entrance ticket is not high, a batch of 4,000 is worth at least 144,000 euros.
On the bright side, no tourists have carved into the artworks yet, as with the case of the Luxor Temple.
Image courtesy of Spyridon Kakouris.