The "Golden Week" holidays have come to an end, but discussion on how to behave properly during travel lingers.
With two years left before the 2008 Olympic Games, which are expected to usher in 250,000 foreign guests - and about 2 million domestic tourists - this holiday serves as a special occasion for people to predict how we Chinese will behave.
The picture is rather worrying.
Like in previous years, uncivilized behaviour by tourists is reportedly common, with the most cited forms being inscribing names on walls or pillars, spitting, talking loudly and randomly littering. These remain frequently seen in tourist spots favoured by Chinese holiday-makers.
In a wider sense, the harm of such behaviour does not lie in our hosting of the 2008 Games; it damages our national image, hurts our national pride and goes against our inner desire to be good citizens.
While everyone seems indignant at such bad manners, there are few signs that they can be stopped quickly and easily, as repeated calls in the past for good behaviour simply do not work.
In this sense, the recent national campaign to encourage civilized manners by tourists, while being a necessary move, will not have much effect in the short term. We will be satisfied if only it can serve as part of our consistent, long-term efforts to promote etiquette among our tourists.
Improper behaviour is not with tourists only. When it becomes so obvious in tourist spots during busy tourism seasons, it may be because something has gone wrong in our daily life. "Tourists," after all, are no others but ordinary people.
Every one of us must reflect on whether we have had such uncouth behaviour during our lives. If we have, we must conduct a serious soul-searching and consciously stop it.
Apart from such self-reflection, technically we are not at our wits' end in dealing with such etiquette problems.
Education holds the key to improving behaviour. It mainly does not mean that for adults, like those campaigns currently pushed nationwide. The success of turning a new look to our environment largely hinges on our capacity to impart in the minds of our children how to behave in public places as a qualified and responsible citizen.
Education means not only teaching the children knowledge and skills, but also helping them accept, and behave in line with, proper ethical standards.
For adults, education campaigns must be coupled with some compulsory punitive measures.
(China Daily 10/10/2006 page4)