• Tue
  • Sep 23, 2014
  • Updated: 9:50am
Chinese tourists

Chinese tourists boycott Maldives resort amid claims of discrimination

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 March, 2013, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 11:07am

Cup noodle fans should think twice when booking holidays in the Maldives, according to several Chinese travel agencies. Some luxury resorts have stopped providing Chinese guests with hot water to prevent them from skipping meals and room service in favour of cup noodles.

One even allegedly coined a new interpretation for “CN” - the acronym of “China”: cup noodle, according to Zhao Jianke, a former guest service manager at The Beach House Iruveli (TBHI), a five-star resort in northern Maldives.

Anger and calls for a boycott erupted on China’s social media this week after Zhao posted claims of discriminatory practices of the resort where he worked from October last year to February.

Many potential holidaymakers say they will stop vacationing on the Indian Ocean island until TBHI offers an official apology.

Zhao Jianke told SCMP.com that staff were ordered to treat Chinese visitors differently after the appointment of a new general manager in December.

“The new manager ordered us to take away hot water kettles from Chinese guests’ rooms and keep them in European guests’ rooms,” Zhao wrote in his statement, which has been reposted more than 10,000 times on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service. 

Despite the fact that Chinese guests - particularly the elderly and couples travelling with toddlers – continually complained, the manager allegedly turned down their request to reinstall kettles, said Zhao.

He claims the manager would refer to CN as “cup noodle” in public and refused to welcome Chinese guests at the pier upon their arrival, a practise he adhered to for European guests, said Zhao.

A Chinese chef was later fired and several other staff, including Zhao, were forced to resign, he said.

An official statement from TBHI obtained by the Post on Friday dismissed the accusations as “defamatory” and denied treating Chinese guests differently.

“The Chinese market is very important for us and are always warmly welcomed to the Beach House Iruveli,” said the statement.

“The Beach House Iruveli did remove some damaged kettles from rooms as part of routine maintenance due to the fact that these kettles were damaged by guests by cooking food,” spokesperson Linda Petrie told SCMP.com on Friday.

On China’s Sina Weibo, former guests of resort shared their shock and disappointment:

“I stayed there in October last year and was very happy with everything - and I did have hot water kettle in my room,” wrote a blogger. “How could it have changed so much?”

“My parents have always had a hard time with western food when travelling overseas,” said another, “So hot tea and cup noodles always came handy.”

Other travellers have simply cancelled plans to visit the Maldives, said Jenny, a Beijing-based travel agent specialising in vacations to the island. 

Jenny is among a group of agencies which stopped recommending the resort to clients after reading Zhao’s expose. They say they would not book the island resort unless TBHI  apologises to its Chinese guests.

Jenny admitted that discriminatory treatment is “very rare” among resorts in the Maldives, which reportedly receives its largest number of tourists from China. 

Zhao’s allegations triggered heated discussions in China after several newspapers picked up the story. Many have called for a thorough investigation.

"If the allegations are true, we should stop going there," said a blogger.

It might be too early to tell if the Maldives is falling out of favour with Chinese tourists, but it has certainly given potential holidaymakers pause for thought when booking vacations.

“After the incident, my clients now all make a new request when booking resorts: no discrimination,” said Jenny. 



Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Chinese tourists often fail to try out any "foreign food" preferring the (bad) cup noodles. They should learn to eat other food. Just imagine I stay here in Beijing and refuse to eat Chinese "ugly food", accepting only Belgian fries and steaks, and of course a Camembert. How insulted the Chinese hosts would be. I am now more Chinese than the average Chinese: I love all the different cuisines here, but Chinese stick often to "their" food only and can be so damned fussy (I am from XYZ and we don't eat rice, etc.). Things are changing slowly, as I see the many Chinese now eating out in Western restaurants (and visibly enjoying it). But we still have too many "farmers-eating-noodles-only". Many Chinese have really closed minds for other cultures.
Alex Chan
With due respect, visiting a country for a few days are much different from living in a country for months or perhaps years. You don’t want an upset stomach while you travel would you? So is it fair to judge them this way?
So this place will be nice and quiet? Good, I'm booking my room at this resort for Easter.
Yes, please come and experience, it will be nice
Let's see, Hong Kong people don't want them, people in Chiang Mai, Thailand say they are rude. The Maldives sees a problem with them and people in France have also called them rude. What conclusion can we come to about this trend?
Alex Chan
But they want their money and business. So what conclusion can we come about this trend? More hypocrites and hypocrisy?
LOL the conclusion is simply an emphatical fact that anywhere we travel we must stress we are Hong Kongers but not from China so we won't end up as collateral damage. Mainlanders have done it again! Kudos!
well i have experienced some chinese tourists who use the kettles in the room to cook the hermit crabs which they collect from the beach,and the kettles cannot be used again. is not acceptable to harm these crabs..
"“My parents have always had a hard time with western food when travelling overseas,” said another, “So hot tea and cup noodles always came handy.”"
I'm not sure about this as it is unbelievable fresh food and ingredients could be an issue. I watch and listen almost every cooking shows in HK on TV and radio cook shows and actually if you follow carefully they all use "chicken powder" or "chicken cube" to marinate fresh seafood, beef, pork , veg, virtually everything marinated with chicken powder by famous chinese chef. Do we have " chicken powder" a century ago in traditional chinese cooking? Chinese are loosing our culture and obsessed with another form of taste enhancer or MSG...I guess. Pleases stop boosting our cooking culture, our culture is dying....quickly.
So this is another example of vp chinese tourist obsessed with MSG..

Alex Chan
Have you ever consider an upset stomach would be far worse than MSG when you are travelling abroad?




SCMP.com Account