For Chinese Tourists Behaving Badly, A Government Blacklist : Parallels The Chinese have earned a reputation as some of the world's rudest travelers. Now, the government has enacted new rules that include a list of the worst offenders.
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For Chinese Tourists Behaving Badly, A Government Blacklist

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For Chinese Tourists Behaving Badly, A Government Blacklist

For Chinese Tourists Behaving Badly, A Government Blacklist

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/405183120/405260478" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Often, when we talk about China, we mention a lot of numbers. But the numbers can only tell you so much. For example, last year Chinese tourists took 109 million trips overseas. That's 20 percent more than the previous year. Those figures spell out explosive growth in tourism. What they don't spell out is another increase that's happening - growing rude behavior by those tourists. Nobody seems more appalled by all this than Chinese citizens themselves. And as NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing, their government has just made new rules to keep bad-mannered tourists in check.

(SOUNDBITE OF AMATEUR VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Speaking foreign language).

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: In this amateur video, a group of Chinese tourists are flying home from Thailand last December. One passenger, whose companion did not initially get the seats she wanted, threatens to blow up the plane. Another member of the group hurls a cup of hot instant noodles at the stewardess. The plane returns to Bangkok, where Thai police detain four of the tourists. Li Zhongguang is a researcher at an arm of the China National Tourism Administration. He says China's leaders are very concerned about the problem of what they call uncivilized tourists.

LI ZHONGGUANG: (Speaking foreign language, through interpreter) It has become a major issue in our oversight of the tourism industry. Our government has been forced to respond to it.

KUHN: Under new rules that take effect this week, authorities can blacklist ill-mannered sightseers, ban them from air travel for up to two years and downgrade their credit ratings. But Li says it won't affect most tourists.

ZHONGGUANG: (Speaking foreign language, through interpreter)Some media have misread these rules as being tougher than they really are, like reporting that folks won't be able to pick their noses in public. These rules really are only meant to curb the worst excesses.

(SOUNDBITE OF AMATEUR VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Speaking foreign language).

KUHN: Here's another amateur video of Chinese travelers; this time they're fighting each other in the aisles of an airplane in Thailand in February. Li Zhongguang says China has had laws for nearly two decades banning this sort of behavior, but it hasn't solved problems such as tourists cutting in line, smoking and talking loudly where they shouldn't.

One of the most embarrassing episodes came two years ago, when a 15-year-old Chinese tourist carved his name on ancient bas reliefs in a temple in Luxor, Egypt. Chuck Liu is an experienced Beijing-based tour operator. He welcomes the new rules. He thinks they'll help him to help his tourists avoid things like littering.

CHUCK LIU: (Speaking foreign language, through interpreter) As adults, they completely understand the principles involved. It's just a matter of changing their ingrained habits.

KUHN: He adds, though, that not everyone gets it.

LIU: (Speaking foreign language, through interpreter) Some of them think nothing of it. They say never mind. It doesn't matter. But I tell them this is the law in the U.S. We're not in China anymore.

KUHN: Liu remembers bringing a group to Hawaii one time. It happened to be China's Mid-Autumn Festival and the passengers were carrying holiday treats in their luggage - moon cakes. Liu says that when customs officers discovered the cakes, they said they'd have to confiscate them. And if it happened again, they could be barred from entering the U.S. But Liu says the story ended with an unexpected twist.

LIU: (Speaking foreign language, through interpreter) While I was communicating with the customs officers, my group proceeded to eat all of the moon cakes. When the officers saw this, they were at first embarrassed. But then they got angry when they realized that the tourists had just eaten all the evidence.

KUHN: Many host nations may be inclined to overlook the issue of tourists' manners as China now contributes more money to the global tourism industry than any other nation. Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing.

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