|tourists at the Forbidden City, photo by Kim W|
But how do people feel about this new influx of Chinese tourists? The feelings seemed to be mixed. Some welcome them with open arms, as they appreciate the money Chinese tourists spend while on holiday. Others are annoyed, unable or unwilling to understand Chinese habits. I can speak to this firsthand, as I'm often mistaken as a Chinese tourist due to my last name. When I check-in to my accommodation, I am often met with interesting comments. One time, in Indonesia, I arrived at my guesthouse and the owner looked at me.
"Your name's Zhao, but your not Chinese?" she puzzled.
"No, I'm not, but my husband is," I explained.
"Well, I'm glad you're not. Those Chinese, they make such a mess, and sometimes they even bring rice cookers and use them in their rooms," she lamented.
I was a bit offended on behalf of all Chinese, not to mention I had just told her that my husband was Chinese. I realize there was some truth to what she said, after having run a hostel myself, I know that Chinese people generally leave a room messier than guests from many other countries. But I felt torn. How much do we expect foreign guests and tourists to bend to our standard when visiting our city or country? And how much should we cater to them as they spend their hard-earned cash and help fuel our local tourist industry and economy?
I was discussing this with one of my Chinese friends recently. She lives in Germany, so she is used to seeing the world from two different perspective's--as a person who grew up in China, but has spent much of her adult life in the west. I told her about a picture that I saw posted on WeChat. It was taken at a German shop and listed a number of rules, clearly directed at Chinese visitors. I've translated it into English below:
|list of rules for Chinese tourists|
Please don't eat or drink in the store!
The store is not a rest stop!
Please don't clip your nails in the store!
Please don't use toothpicks in the store!
Please don't spit in the store!
We politely refuse to haggle, but you can have receipt for duty free!
Please don't talk loudly, in order to avoid disrupting other customers shopping.
Please, no burping or farting in the store!
We both agreed that this was over-the-top and a tad offensive. I can understand asking customers not to eat and drink in the shop and I think posting a sign not to spit is, unfortunately, still a needed reminder for many older Chinese tourists. But I so rarely see Chinese people using toothpicks (especially outside of a restaurant) or hear them letting one rip in public (elderly men excluded), I don't think it needs saying. If I were Chinese and saw such a sign, I think I would kindly move on to the next shop.
What do you think? Do you try to adapt your habits to local culture when on vacation? Do you think we should afford some leeway to how foreign guests act when they visit our country?