• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 3:30pm

Maldives resorts on the lookout for Chinese tourists on 'fake' honeymoons

At least two resorts have revised policies to thwart fake honeymooners

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 11:38am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 May, 2013, 8:05am

Guangzhou newly-wed Sara had been hoping for a private holiday when she landed at a Maldives luxury resort with her husband in March. But when six other Chinese “couples”- among them a elderly woman and her adult son - showed up at a sunset dinner, Sara was outraged.

The dinner was advertised by the hotel as exclusively for newly-weds. 

“How could they have been so shameless just for a free meal?” the woman who was identified only as Sara later vented on her microblog.

Sara told of one couple who were apparently vacationing with their child. They were later confronted by hotel staff.

“How can you possibly be on a honeymoon when your child is already so big?” they were asked, according to Sara's weibo post. The couple were asked to show their marriage certificate.

The husband produced a copy of their certificate, while shouting in Chinese: “Of course it’s our honeymoon. Can’t you read? You trash.”

The fake honeymoon story shocked thousands of China’s social media users, who criticised the “uncivilised behaviour” of the holidaymakers and even called for a "human flesh search" to locate the culprits.

The six “couples”, who Sara said appeared to be related, had booked their vacations through a travel agent, like a majority of Chinese tourists vacationing abroad.

To win customers, more Chinese travel agents are encouraging or even assisting their clients to fake marriage documents to qualify for honeymoon perks offered by Maldives resorts, said Jenny Wang, a Beijing-based Maldives vacation agent.

Offers include free meals, a complimentary visit to a spa, a basket of fruit or a bottle of champagne, depending on the resort. Most resorts require tourists to apply within six months of their marriage date. But marriage certificates can be easily manipulated on computers, and agents don’t have to break a sweat faking documents for clients.

Wang admitted that she had lost dozens of clients to her competitors simply because she wasn’t willing to “help”. 

“Some people are ready to take any advantage they can,” she said. 

She said resorts have had Chinese sisters posing as newly-weds because same-sex couples are also entitled to the honeymoon offers. But such couples are usually fake since it's no secret that gay marriage is not legal in China, Wang said.

Until recently, most resorts have appeared tolerant about fraudulent honeymooners, which account for about 50 per cent of all tourists on honeymoon packages, according to Wang's estimate.

But apparently some resorts have finally had enough.

In a letter issued to travel agents last week by luxury Maldives resort Niyama, obtained by the South China Morning Post, honeymoon bookings must now show proof. 

“It has been brought to our attention recently that honeymoon bookings are being made and benefits requested for clients that evidently are not on their honeymoon i.e./ mother and daughters, sister etc,” reads the letter.

Agents must submit a copy of tourists' marriage certificates for future bookings. Wang said she had received similar requests from at least one other resort.

Helen Bolton, director of sales at Niyama, told the Post that they have had instances where "sisters and mother and daughters were booked by the agents on the honeymoon package".

The Maldives, which reportedly receives its largest number of tourists from China, is becoming increasingly popular among China's burgeoning middle-class vacationers, who are said to be raucous and tend to travel in groups. Some tourists boycotted a Maldives resort this year after it allegedly withdrew electric kettles from its rooms to prevent Chinese visitors from cooking instant noodles.

This month China's Vice-Premier Wang Yang admitted that dire manners and "uncivilised behaviour" of tourists are harming China's image.


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

I am stunned a mainlander would resort to cheating to gain even the tiniest of advantage
funny you would never see a japanese person do this
well I would not say that I am stunned, This is just typical mainland rude, selfish, arrogant, obnoxious behaviour and they ruin it for everyone else
typical rude, selfish mainland chinese behaviour, what else do you expect ??
The behaviour of mainland Chinese again rortung the system does not make anyone respect China even if these mainlanders are now wealthier.
The mainland Chinese lack of social skills and decorum such as shouting in conversation, jumping queues, disgusting manners eg. spitting and total lack of respect for anyone else are all symtoms of an underclass trying to boast their wealth.
I wouldn't go to the Maldives to compete with the mainlanders regardless of how good the deals are. A holidiay is about having a good time without affecting others and others affecting you in a civilised and dignified behavourial environment.
If rowdy and unpleasant tourists from other Asian countires or USA do the same in China there would have been an outcry from Chinese authorities.
this is why mainland chinese and american tourist, particularly from the mid western states like michigan are the worst!!!
In this case what strikes me the most is that they would go to create a forged document to get a free meal, I mean how low can you go! Next thing why don"t you bring bad looking clothes and start begging on the side of the street to pay your holiday. If you can't afford a meal, if you have to lie and cheat to get a bottle of champagne in a 5 stars hotel, why don't you just go visit some place cheaper. The saddest thing is I am sure they probably think oh were so smart we got a free meal good job done aaaarrrshhhhhtuuuu (this is the sound of a big spitting right next to the ashtray in the lobby.
.....then hoteliers realised that the German tourists were the tourists with the money and (slowly...too slowly) adjusted their offering to suit their new customers' preferences. Today it's rare to see a breakfast buffet in an hotel without it's "german corner" of cheeses and hams. So, today, if Chinese tourists want pot noodles in their room....adapt. The customer is always right.....but they can slowly be educated to buy something more if you first engage at their basic level of requirement. Hell, ask any store in Pacific Place or IFC how they have responded and adapted to the "Mainland effect".
The VP stated that this is "harming China's image", which is the apparent outcome. Understanding the root cause of this could be a start. Is this a product of Mainland China's nouveau riche culture? The sudden growth of money together with a lack of civic education, which could be overt/directly taught, or ideally - tacit, unwritten rules, social norms of behavior that people display in their society. In my opinion, the VP is quick to find the obvious fault, however for developmental purposes we need to understand the underlying societal issues.
Hey, honeymooners can be at any age. Older honeymooners might leave the room every now and again
Its all about education... moral education vs. national education :D
Thanks to Brits atleast they have given HK good lessons on manners and morals...



SCMP.com Account