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Lijiang cracks down on misconduct to restore tourists' faith, official says

By Li Lei | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-03-03 22:02
The Old Town of Lijiang. [Photo/Xinhua]

Authorities in Lijiang, a major tourist hub in Southwest China's Yunnan province, will maintain a hardline stance against tourism-related misconduct to repair its image following a slew of scandals involving sightseers cheated in the province over the last few years.

Zheng Yi, mayor of Lijiang, said his office has moved to improve tourist experiences along with burnishing the infrastructure and landscape within its scenic spots.

"We have rolled out strict measures for rectifications in line with the province's instructions," said Zheng, who is also a deputy to the second session of the 13th National People's Congress, which will open on Tuesday.

The legislator said the measures include shutting down stores that have links to tourist guides or agencies in a bid to curb collusions to swindle money out of visitors seeking to buy souvenirs.

They also created a blacklist for guides and agencies who take advantage of tourists, which is updated monthly. Those on the list will face punishment, including fines, and will be made known to the public as dishonest.

To detect misconduct earlier, Zheng said the city hired people to work undercover and experience the city's tourist services, and will continue to improve the channel for lodging complaints.

Though the misconduct cannot be ended soon, "we will speed up our response so that there is little room for such behavior," he said.

Lijiang is known for its ancient town area – Old Town of Lijiang – which was once a trade center along the Old Tea Horse Caravan Trail and was added to UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1997.

In June last year, Li Yun, a tour guide with Kunming Yundi International Travel Agency in Yunnan, was sentenced to six months in prison for berating and threatening tourists who refused to shop at souvenir retail outlets, and fined 2,000 yuan ($310).

In December 2017, she forced a group of travelers to shop during a three-day tour of Jinghong in Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture. Eight travelers were forced to buy jade, tea and other souvenirs costing up to 15,156 yuan. Other tourists who refused to shop, or who didn't meet the quota of 2,000 yuan set by Li, were verbally abused or not given hotel room keys.

A short video taken by a member of Li's tour group soon went viral online and was reposted by several media outlets.

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