China / Hot Issues

Scams leave visitors with bitter aftertaste during holiday week

By SU ZHOU (China Daily) Updated: 2015-10-08 07:06

Scandals over prawns and bars at tourist sites sparked a consumer rights furor during Golden Week, with industry insiders warning that poor tourism service at home would push tourists to travel overseas.

The National Day holiday, from Oct 1 to 7, is the peak season for travel. According to the China National Tourism Administration, all tourism destinations saw growth in the number of visits.

However, not all of the tourists were happy about their trips.

A tourist from Nanjing surnamed Zhu complained about being overcharged for a seafood dinner in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao.

According to Beijing Youth Daily, Zhu checked the price with the restaurant server before ordering seafood to avoid any traps. "And the server promised that that 38 yuan was the price of one dish of prawns."

However, when the bill arrived, Zhu was charged 1,520 yuan for the prawns because "the price was per prawn".

Zhu added that the restaurant owner threatened to beat his family if they didn't pay the bill. Local authorities didn't help, but suggested Zhu pay the bill.

However, the restaurant has now been closed for business and fined 90,000 yuan ($14,000), and an official at the market supervision administration of the northern district of Qingdao was suspended.

Another tourist from Shenzhen also fell into a trap in Lijiang, Yunnan province. The tourist, identified only as Peng, said he was lured into spending 5,000 yuan at a bar when he looked for a romance with two strangers.

Peng said he knew the two women on WeChat, and the two women took him to a bar and ordered six bottles of wine. They soon disappeared.

This was not an isolated case.

According to The Paper, an online news portal in Shanghai, many bars at Lijiang hired women to bring in tourists. In July, two bars were shut down after an inspection.

Zhang Hui, a veteran tourist in Shanghai, said she would prefer to travel overseas because of the poor service in those tourism destinations.

"When we travel, we have to worry about traps all the time. Taxi drivers detour to charge you more. Tour guides take you to buy fake souvenirs just to get kickbacks. This is awful," said Zhang.

Wang Yanyong, director of the Tourism Development and Planning Research Center of Beijing Jiaotong University, said scandals have become routine during every peak tourism season.

"The period for tourism attractions to make profit is way too limited in China," said Wang. "Chinese tourists still rely on public holidays to take trips. Many tourism destinations expect to generate profits during the seven days."

"However, this is no excuse for blackmailing tourists. Now the cost for traveling overseas is very low. Many tourists have experienced good service overseas, and they will not tolerate poor service at home," Wang said.

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