A mainland tourist who defaced a sculpture at a 3,500-year-old Egyptian temple has been identified as a teenager from Nanjing, his embarrassed parents confirmed yesterday.
He had written "Ding Jinhao was here" on the artwork some years ago during a visit to the Temple of Luxor, the parents said in an apologetic interview with Nanjing's Modern Express newspaper on Saturday.
Ding's graffiti caused an online stir this week when a microblogger posted a photo of the message, citing it as an example of shameful behaviour by mainland tourists abroad. The post attracted a torrent of replies, including suggestions that the perpetrator be tracked down.
Some disclosed personal information about Ding, including his age and school, after searching his records online.
The website of his former primary school in Nanjing was attacked yesterday. It showed the same message that Ding had left in Egypt, and visitors to the site had to click the message before they could open the homepage.
Ding's parents told the Modern Express that it was their lack of education and supervision that led to his mischief.
They said the attack happened when their son, now in middle school, was little. They were with a tourist group and did not notice when he scrawled on the sculpture, the mother said.
"We have taken him sightseeing since he was little, and we often saw such graffiti. But we didn't realise we should have told him that this is wrong," she said. The mother also implored internet users not to hound her son.
Mainlanders are today the biggest drivers of global tourism, but their sheer numbers and a perception that they can be insensitive travellers have strained their reputation.
At a conference earlier this month to implement the newly passed Tourism Law, vice premier Wang Yang said some mainland tourists behaved poorly and hurt the nation's image.
The law, to come into force in October, says that tourists should "cherish tourist resources and abide by social morality while sightseeing," although it mentions no offences or penalties.
Mainland tourists made some 82 million international visits last year, according to the China Tourism Academy.