Chinese tourists accused of pinching ‘crown jewels’ from Vladivostok’s glass beach

Visitors to Russian port urged to behave after daily coach loads of visitors from China are accused removing the colourful ‘pebbles’ formed from tonnes of broken glass

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 6:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 10:23pm

Chinese diplomats in Russia have warned tourists visiting the country to behave after complaints that visitors to Vladivostok were stealing rare glass “pebbles ” from one of the city’s beaches.

Around a dozen Chinese tourists have been filmed picking up the colourful objects formed by the remnants of glass bottles at Ussuri Bay and carrying them away.

“Some tour agencies have told their clients it’s allowed to take glass away from the beach, which is not true,” China’s consulate-general in Vladivostok said. “We remind Chinese tourists and travel agencies to behave properly.”

“My friends there told me four to five Chinese tourist buses come every day and all the tourists [from those buses] do it,” said Alexander Smolyakov, 34, a driver in Vladivostok who lives around 20km from the beach.

There is a sign at the beach saying: “Taking glass from the beach is strictly forbidden”, but the warning is only written in Russian.

The port city is located in Russia’s far east, near the country’s borders with China and North Korea. It has become a popular tourist destination for Chinese visitors in recent years.

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Vladivostok received 330,000 visitors from China in 2015, third only to Moscow and St Petersburg among Russian destinations, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The number of visitors rose by 85 per cent in the first six months of 2016 compared with the same period the previous year.

Ussuri Bay is covered with sparkling glass stones which were formed from the thousands of glass bottles dumped in the sea during the Soviet era.

Pictures of the colourful “stones” have proved especially popular on social media and is proving a strong draw for Chinese visitors.

These remnants have been smoothed by erosion from the sea and the rocks and now pose no threat to swimmers and sunbathers.

“People were outraged after I posted the video on Instagram,” Smolyakov said. His post, published last Friday, has since received over 100,000 views, about 3,000 likes and 400 comments.

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The consulate in Vladivostok has also warned the rising numbers of Chinese visitors to beware of unscrupulous tour operators who are offering unsafe sea food banquets following a string of food poisoning incidents.

The suspicious tour operators are charging about 550 yuan (US$81) per person for a seafood banquet at Chinese restaurants in the city, but then only pay the restaurants about 60 yuan (US$9) per head, the consulate warned on Monday.

It said that the restaurants then serve low-quality food that is often old or stale.