Destinations Asia

Chinese Province Sets Up Enforcement Team to Handle Misbehaving Tour Guides

Jan 07, 2014 3:00 am

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China’s catapult into tourism has been somewhat rocky with some government officials, tour guides, and citizens abroad being berated for misbehavior, overspending, and general inappropriateness.

— Samantha Shankman

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The popular tourist destination of Lijiang, Yunnan province, is planning to establish a law enforcement team to deal with misconduct in the local tourism industry, a local official said on Sunday.

“We have made a plan and will submit it to the city government and provincial authorities,” said He Linhai, deputy director of the Lijiang tourism bureau.

“A bureau in charge of supervising and regulating the tourism industry in the city will be set up once we receive approval and finish preparations,” he said.

Responding to recent media reports that a local guide insulted tourists who refused to spend money in shops the guide took them to, he said his bureau conducted an investigation and will severely punish those responsible.

“The travel agency will be fined 300,000 yuan (US $49,600) and its boss 10,000 yuan for failing to properly manage the guides. The fines are the highest amounts the tourism law empowers us to impose on agencies and individuals,” He said.

A video broadcast by China Central Television on Sunday shows a guide berating tourists on a bus for not buying souvenirs.

“Refusing to spend anything during the trip is more shameful than practicing prostitution,” the male guide said in the video. “You are welcome in Lijiang because you are actually expected to consume here. If you intend to save money, it would be better for you to stay at home rather than participating in a tour group.”

After the tour guide finished, a woman began to try to persuade tourists to buy her goods, while the tour guide said he would not take kickbacks in deals between the woman and tourists.

Many Chinese Internet users said they have met guides who used offensive words to force tourists to buy goods in shops where they could collect commission, but the guide’s insults were so outrageous, he must be seriously punished.

He from the Lijiang tourism bureau said the guide in the video, Liu Junjie, is not a licensed guide and was hired by Wang Guangzhi, who has a guide license, to help conduct the group of 27 tourists on December 23.

Wang had a cold so he asked Liu to help, the official said. Liu humiliated several tourists who did not go shopping with Wang.

“Wang and Liu were each fined 10,000 yuan. Wang’s license has been revoked, while Liu is banned from applying for such a license in Lijiang.”

This is not the first time tour guides in Yunnan, one of the most popular destinations in China, have been caught forcing tourists to shop after Oct 1, when the tourism law — prohibiting forcing tour groups to shop — took effect.

In October, China Central Television reported that two guides in Shangri-La county, northwest of Lijiang, had threatened and abandoned travellers who refused to pay for extra activities. The guides had their licenses revoked.

Despite the negative coverage, Lijiang still remains one of the top tourist attractions in China, a recent survey said.

The survey by Ctrip, a Chinese online tourist service company, shows Lijiang is joined by Sanya in the island province of Hainan and Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan province in being top domestic travel destinations of the 3,000 people polled.

In addition, the survey found that more tourists are choosing not to travel in groups.

About 95 per cent of respondents said they will either increase or keep their budget the same for trips this year, while a third of the respondents plan to spend at least 10,000 yuan on a trip in 2014, according to the survey.

The majority of respondents said they intend to travel during the Spring Festival holiday, which begins on January 31, and the National Day holiday, which begins on October 1.

(c)2014 the Asia News Network (Hamburg, Germany). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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