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Chinese Tourists Get a Bad Rep Abroad

It’s been a bad week for the reputation of Chinese tourists. It started with a Chinese vice-premier lamenting the behavior of his countrymen abroad and culminated with news that a Nanjing teenager had defaced an ancient Egyptian temple.

Part of the reason Chinese tourists are getting more press simply comes down to the numbers – Chinese are the fastest growing source of international tourists in the world, increasing from 10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012. Last year also saw the country move past Germany for the title of largest spender in international tourism.

Chinese culture is unique and can often be very much at odds with the society in which they travel. According to The Vancouver Sun, it’s gotten so bad that hotels from Bangkok to Paris have stopped booking Chinese guests:

“People around the world who have contact with Chinese tourists report many other pieces of unseemly behavior including not flushing toilets, ignoring no smoking signs, flouting traffic laws, littering, elbowing their way to the front of lineups, and allowing children to urinate or defecate in public.”

Chinese vice-premier, Wang Yang, who is proposing legislation to regulate travelers’ behaviors, chalks up the bad conduct to lack of “quality breeding.”


The image of Chinese tourists took another hit this week with reports circulating about a Nanjing teenager inscribing, “Ding Jinhao was here” on ancient hieroglyphics in Luxor. This major embarrassment prompted Chinese tourists and journalists to publicly decry the act:

"Why there are so many citizens who go abroad and humiliate us? How many generations will it take to change this kind of behavior?"

Ironically, in a Washington Post article last year, an Indonesian compared the rowdy Chinese tourists to 1960s Americans:

“Hartono, an ethnic Chinese and a fluent speaker of Mandarin, said he cannot understand the loud and pushy behavior of many of the Chinese visitors, characteristics that have made them Asia’s modern-day equivalent of the brash, overbearing “ugly Americans” of the 1960s who earned such notoriety in Europe and elsewhere.”

Chinese tourists are also far from the first to deface Egyptian temples – Europeans have been writing graffiti on them for hundreds of years. Not to mention the relocation of entire temples to Europe and the US during the period of Egyptomania. 

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