They’re the nouveau riche, they’re ambitious, they’re on the move, and hopefully they’ll improve their image as tourists.
However, the more that China works to shake off its ‘bad tourist’ reputation the harder some idiots work to confirm that Chinese actually are the planet’s worst tourists and statistically likely to engage in embarrassingly boorish behaviour, upsetting or offending normally genial locals no end.
And the latest gaffe? A passenger on China Eastern airlines opened the plane’s emergency exit door that automatically deployed the emergency slide soon after touchdown at Hainan Airport. A delay of two hours on turnaround ensued with the guilty party fined $10,000 for his idiocy.
There is Chinese logic to his actions however, as when he was asked why he’d opened the emergency door he simply replied that he “wanted to get off the plane quicker.” Obviously the expensive pre-flight safety video (in his own language) was ignored.
But Chinese plane manners haven’t ended here with another recent event unravelling between a Chinese woman on an AirAsia flight from Bangkok to Nanjing and the flight attendant. Upset as she wasn’t seated next to her travel companion, the Chinese woman threw a cup of scalding hot noodles at the cabin crew. Mild burns aside, the third party in the fracas threatened to blow the plane up if hot noodle pain wasn’t respected. Needless to say the flight plan was drastically altered and a certain couple were met by local law enforcement officers when the plane made its unscheduled landing.
In China however nothing is ever static, and with typical fervour and industrious application the state has commenced work on a national database to help identify and eventually rein in some of its unruly sightseers and monitor the behaviour of its habitual travel offenders. In 2013 the World Tourism Organisation reported that Chinese tourists overtook Americans and Germans as the world’s top spending travellers, with the same organisation reporting that they also head the table as the nation with tourists whose questionable behaviour is most likely to cause offence and make them unwelcome.
Once the Chinese state’s traveller ranking system is in place, repeat offenders may find it difficult to board planes or book hotels, with the data being shared with airlines, hotels and travel agencies. Additionally the system would also rank offences by severity, and provide punishment for unruly tourists according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua.
In an attempt at pre-empting future bad behaviour and antics of its citizens abroad, the Chinese state authorities are trying to mend nation’s image by issuing a guidebook for ‘civilized tourism’ with specific instructions on taking moderate (not giant) servings at buffets, avoiding going outside bare-chested (no matter how hot it is), and for not spitting in public (even into drains, gutters or public toilets).
So from the battleface perspective, we offer this sound advice.
When you travel the world, whether you like it or not, you are a representative of your country and your behaviour — good or bad — will reflect on your nation as a whole. That’s why, while we’re all for spontaneity, sometimes it’s a good idea to stop and think before you take that ninth beer of the night.