Travel agents on danger-trip alert
Caution urged over countries affected by terrorism, crime
China's tourism watchdog has cautioned travel agents about organising tours to countries hit by terrorism or to destinations where Chinese have been targets of robberies or abuse.
Malaysia and Switzerland are two destinations on the China National Tourism Administration's watch list after recent reports of theft and robberies committed against Chinese visitors.
'Local tourism administrations should also be reminded that no trips should be organised to countries which have had terrorist attacks or criminals targeting tourists,' a notice issued by the administration said. 'Trips to these countries and regions should be promptly adjusted or avoided.'
The notice also requires travel agents to put emergency plans in place.
Malaysia is one of the most popular destinations for mainlanders, with about half a million Chinese visiting the country each year.
But two cases last month - one involving racial abuse and one relating to bag snatching - have aroused widespread concern.
In the first case, on July 26, Chinese embassy staff were called to intervene in a dispute between staff at the Genting Highlands' First World Hotel and more than 300 Chinese tourists. The visitors asked for an apology when they discovered hand-drawn pictures of pigs on their breakfast coupons, but staff responded by summoning police and security guards.
Three days later, thieves on motorcycles stole bags from 22 Chinese at the Batu Caves, north of Kuala Lumpur.
Zhao Gang, a marketing officer with the Malaysian embassy's tourism office, agreed the recent incidents against Chinese had damaged Malaysia's reputation but said his country had worked to improve the tourism environment.
'I am confident that as the most mature and common destination for Chinese outbound tourists, Malaysia's attraction will not be put to shame, despite the recent crimes,' Mr Zhao said.
'We understand the notice by the China National Tourism Administration was a friendly reminder and I believe the Chinese travel services will try to enhance the safety of the tourist groups they organise by co-operating with Malaysian guides.'
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a warning this month about thefts targeting Chinese tourists in Switzerland, especially Geneva.
Swiss Tourism's Beijing office representative, Feng Hui, declined to comment on the notice's possible effects.
At the British embassy in Beijing, tourism office representative Li Yanjun said Britain had not been included in the notice because the country had been always a safe destination for tourists and no terrorist attacks had targeted tourists.
She said trips to Britain were proceeding normally, but there was concern the notice would affect people's travel choices.