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Manners of tourists

Updated: 2013-08-02 07:08
( China Daily)

A recent call from a top Party publicity official for measures to improve the behavior of Chinese tourists overseas has once again put the long-controversial image of our outbound fellow citizens under public scrutiny.

At a televised conference held by the Central Commission for Guiding Cultural and Ethical Progress on Wednesday, Liu Qibao, head of the Communist Party of China Central Committee's Publicity Department, stressed that better education and supervision are needed to strengthen public awareness of civilized manners. On the same day, the China International Travel Service also called for outbound tourists and tour guides to behave themselves overseas and show respect for local laws, regulations and customs.

Given a spate of recent incidents involving the bad behavior of mainland tourists overseas, such calls are by no means an overreaction.

In May, a Chinese teenager from Jiangsu province, in his parents' company, scratched his name into the wall of the 3,500-year-old Luxor Temple in a tour to Egypt, drawing widespread disapprobation from the public. And many Chinese felt ashamed when they heard two mainland mothers let their children defecate on the floor of Kaohsiung airport in Taiwan in January and when a Swiss International Airlines plane from Zurich to Beijing was forced to turn back in September after two Chinese passengers fought onboard over a trivial dispute.

These may be extreme examples, but it is a widely recognized fact that some Chinese tourists behave poorly at home and overseas, such as spitting, tossing garbage and showing a lack of respect for local customs.

It is an indisputable fact that the spending of Chinese travelers has been welcomed overseas, especially during the global economic slowdown. According to the World Tourism Organization, more than 83 million Chinese tourists traveled overseas last year and their overseas expenditure reached $102 billion, the highest in the world. With the continuous development of China's economy, the spending of Chinese travelers overseas is expected to continue to grow in the years ahead.

That the poor manners of individual citizens overseas have caught the attention of the national leadership is good for this image-sensitive nation. The authorities' attention on the matter will be conducive to improving the public awareness of the need for better behavior. But more should be done in preparing the tourists, at least for the customs of their destinations.