Wang Yang

Dire manners and 'uncivilised behaviour' of tourists is harming China's image, admits VP Wang Yang

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 May, 2013, 11:41am

The dire manners and "uncivilised behaviour" of some of its tourists are harming China's image overseas, a top official said.

Vice-Premier Wang Yang singled out "talking loudly in public places, jay-walking, spitting and wilfully carving characters on items in scenic zones".

Improving the civilised quality of the citizens [is] ... the obligations of governments at all levels
Vice-Premier Wang Yang

Such bad manners were "often criticised by the media and have damaged the image of Chinese people and caused vicious impact", he said, according to the People's Daily website.

At a meeting on a new tourism law on Thursday, Wang said: "The quality and breeding of some tourists are not high yet."

As people get richer, foreign holidays are ever more popular. Destination countries, including debt-laden European states, have been easing visa restrictions to attract more tourists from China, but reports have emerged of complaints about etiquette.

A mainlander who had her son relieve himself in a bottle in a Hong Kong restaurant sparked online anger in February.

"Improving the civilised quality of the citizens and building a good image of Chinese tourists are the obligations of governments at all levels and relevant agencies and companies," Wang, a former party chief of Guangdong, said.

Authorities should "guide tourists to conscientiously abide by public order and social ethics, respect local religious beliefs and customs, mind their speech and behaviour … and protect the environment," he said.

Under the new Chinese law, travel agencies will be allowed to revoke their contracts with tourists who "engage in activities that violate social ethics", although it does not specify examples.

Hong Kong Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung welcomed Wang's remarks. "I hope they [mainland tourists] really listen to state leaders. It is no use if they do not listen," he said. Not only the travel sector, but other areas such as retail and food and beverage would benefit, he said.

Some commenters on SCMP Facebook doubted Wang's remarks would have any effect.

Sara Jane Ho, principal of Beijing's Institute Sarita, China's first high-end finishing school, said: "Most Chinese do not behave this way on purpose … They grew up in a generation of basic survival; you don't have the luxury to think about manners and personal space when trying to fight to the front of the food ration line."

Additional reporting by Simpson Cheung