Chinese tourists–100 million strong annually and growing–sure have been getting a bad rap lately. Two weeks ago it was the unruly passengers who opened the plane’s doors on the runway. Two months ago it was the man who scalded a flight attendant’s face with hot noodle water while shouting he would blow up the plane. In Egypt, the Temple of Luxor was defaced by a 15-year old from Nanjing, and at the Louvre there are signs with Chinese characters (only) warning against public defecation. Is it a case of a few bad apples spoiling it for the millions of others, or are the Chinese truly “uncivilized” when it comes to travel?
Actions taken by the government indicate that that august body would like to get to the bottom of this problem. This week they’ve announced their intentions to implement an “accountability mechanism” to track the shenanigans of tourists, and hopefully have them face consequences for that the state has called “uncivilized” behavior. Though sketchy on the details, the idea is that a database run by the National Tourism Administration, and in cahoots with airlines, hotels, travel agencies and the like, would keep track of the bad seeds. If you do something unseemly, like allowing your young son to defecate in the cabin on a flight to Detroit, you simply wont be allowed to travel again. It is just this sort of brave combination of PR and population control that the Chinese government does best, but one must wander if the existence of a database will actually work to dissuade the sorts who would commit such acts of disgust or violence.
After all, this is hardly the first time the government has expressed concern at this kind of behavior. A tourism law, announced in 2013, included measures designed to combat tourists behaving badly – but had no information on how it could be enforced overseas.
This time it would seem, China is upping its efforts – this wasn’t the only measure announced by the Tourism Administration. Among others are texting passengers upon landing to remind them to behave themselves as well as sending 10,000 college students overseas on backpacking trips to “promote civilized tourism.”