According to China’s National Tourism Administration (中国国家旅游管理局), China now sends more tourists abroad than any other country in the world. The number of Chinese outbound tourists exceeded 100 million in 2014, spending $155 billion.
Although destination countries welcome the money spent by Chinese travelers, locals often can’t stand the chaos and hassle some Chinese tourists bring to their countries. They consider them to be loud, rude, pushy, and all over the place.
“They’re loud and rude, and spit on the floor.”
Such is the case in Switzerland, visited by one million Chinese tourists every year. Locals and Swiss tourists often feel harassed by the Chinese, Heute reports, especially on the famous Rigi Railways. Chinese tourists are said to be “loud and rude”, and they “spit on the floor”. Their misbehavior has lead Rigi Railways to take special measures: since August there are extra trains for ‘Asian tourists’, and from September extra ones for ‘international guests’. There are also special signs on the toilet explaining tourists how (not) to use the toilet, according to Heute.
Although Rigi Railways officially has opened extra train carriages for ‘Asian guests’, a local Swiss newspaper clearly stated they were especially meant for Chinese, its headline being: “Zu laut, zu frech – Schweiz führt Extra-Züge für Chinesen ein” (“Too Loud, Too Rude: Switzerland Introduces Extra Trains for Chinese Tourists”).
The newspaper also published one of the train’s illustrations that instruct tourists to sit on toilet seats rather than to squat on them. The railway company assumes that Chinese tourists often stand on the toilet, and don’t clean their footprints afterwards.
“Some Chinese have bad manners, but we’re not all like that.”
Many users consider it to be discrimination against Chinese tourists. User “Shiya” doubts Europeans can tell the differences between Asians: “They can’t distinguish the different Asians from different countries. Chinese, Japanese and Koreans probably look the same to them. Why are they so sure that the footprints are left by Chinese? The news says that the extra coaches are meant for Asians. However, it tried to draw the public’s attention by emphasizing it is for Chinese in the title. This is discrimination.”
User “Luoluo” follows: “I thought people from western countries advocate freedom and equality, and that they oppose to discrimination. But to me, this [the news] is pure and simple discrimination. I admit that some Chinese don’t really have good manners, but it doesn’t mean we are all like that. I’m fed up that we are blamed for all the uncivilized behavior by Asians. Of course we need to stand up against misbehaviour, but we can’t endure the discrimination.”
“If you’re used to squatting, you just can’t poo by sitting on the toilet.”
Some users try to explain the culture of squatting on the toilet in China. Although ‘western-style’ toilets are popular in China’s bigger cities and airports, there are still lots of squatting toilets, especially in rural areas. Weibo user “JaneyPan” says that from a physiological standpoint, squatting is the best toilet position. “If you are used to squatting, you just can’t poo by sitting on the toilet. But I agree that we need to clean the footprints afterwards.” She then adds: “Maybe the Switzerland railway should consider building squatting toilets on the carriages meant for Chinese tourists.”
“They think they can do anything they want because they have money.”
A large number of netizens also self-reflect, saying it is high time to promote civilized behaviour amongst Chinese travelers, and restore the country’s image. User “Beer Happiness” comments: “Many Chinese now want to travel abroad to see the world as we are getting wealthy. Yet, a small amount of Chinese tourists with low quality have damaged our nation’s image. Most foreigners haven’t been to China. They know things about China through the news. That’s why they think all Chinese people are rude.”
The Switzerland railway issue is not the first case where Chinese tourists are treated differently. Earlier this year, Mainland Chinese tourists were temporarily banned from entering the Wat Rong Khun temple, one of the top tourist destinations in Chiang Rai, Thailand, because of inappropriate toilet usage. The temple was reopened to Chinese tourists on the condition that their tour guides would be held responsible for cleaning the toilets. As user “Xj” suggests: “The tour guide should give etiquette lessons to its clients, especially to the middle-aged tourists. They think can do anything they want because they have money. This is wrong.”
The Chinese government has taken actions to stop the uncivilized behaviour of Chinese tourists abroad. The National Tourism Administration has started to track the actions of Chinese citizens abroad since last year April. Provincial and national authorities will be in touch with unruly citizens upon their return to China. This measurement came into effect after a group of Chinese travelers scalded a flight attendant with hot water and threatened to blow up a plane from Bangkok to Nanjing.
“The saddest thing when traveling abroad is to witness the bad behaviour of our people. They really harm China’s reputation,” says user “FPA”: “I understand the intention of these foreign countries who treat Chinese tourists differently. I mean, who wants to travel with Chinese tourists who are loud, rude and fight over small things?” In the end, like a lot of other netizens, user “FPA” calls on Chinese travelers to respect the locals and their culture: “We are making progress on this. I just hope foreign countries won’t discriminate against us.”
By Yiying Fan
This article was published on What’s on Weibo.