Friday 18 April 2014

Etiquette guide: Chinese tourists warned not pick their noses or pee in pools

Chinese tourists wearing masks and headscarves pose for photographs on Tiananmen Square during a large dust storm in Beijing...Chinese tourists wearing masks and headscarves pose for photographs on Tiananmen Square during a large dust storm in Beijing March 22, 2010. Tons of sand carried by winds of up to 100 km/h has affected more than 270 million people in 16 provinces since Friday, covering about 2 million square kilometres, state media reported. REUTERS/David Gray      (CHINA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT MILITARY TRAVEL)...I
Chinese tourists pose for photographs on Tiananmen Square in Beijing

Chinese tourists should not pick their noses in public, urinate in pools or steal aeroplane life jackets, the country’s image-conscious authorities have warned.

China’s National Tourism Administration publicised its 64-page “Guidebook for Civilised Tourism” - with illustrations to accompany its list of dos and don'ts - on its website ahead of a "Golden Week" public holiday that began on October 1.

As Chinese tourists head abroad in increasing number, they have developed a stereotype of "uncivilised behaviour", which Vice Premier Wang Yang said in May had "damaged the image of the Chinese people".

Several countries, including debt-laden European nations, have eased visa restrictions to attract increasingly affluent Chinese tourists, but reports have also emerged of complaints about etiquette.

In August, Chinese tourists in North Korea were accused of insensitive behaviour, such as throwing sweets at children "like they’re feeding ducks". And in May a 15-year-old from Nanjing sparked outrage after he carved his name into an ancient relief at a temple in Luxor, Egypt.

The government has previously issued pithy guidelines telling tourists how to behave, but the latest booklet elaborated in great detail.

It warned travellers not to pick their noses in public, to keep their nose-hair neatly trimmed and, if they had to pick their teeth, never to use their fingers.

It also urged them not to occupy public toilets for long periods of time or leave footprints on the toilet seat. Nor should they urinate in swimming pools.

Travellers should not drink soup straight from the bowl or make slurping sounds when eating noodles, it warned.

And after taking a flight they must leave the life jackets underneath their seats, the rulebook said, explaining that "if a dangerous situation arises then someone else will not have a life jacket".

A tour guide surnamed Zhang, who was in Hong Kong yesterday, said his company had given him a copy of the rules at the start of the seven-day October holiday.

Before this he said they had distributed a much briefer set of guidelines - which fit on a single sheet of paper.

"I feel things need to be improved," he said, standing in the city square packed with mainland tourists. "If we bring chaos to other places, it's our image - the Chinese image - that suffers."

The handbook also dispensed country-specific advice: Chinese visitors to Germany should only snap their fingers to beckon dogs, not humans.

Women in Spain should always wear earrings in public - or else be considered effectively naked.

And diners in Japan were instructed not to play with their clothes or hair during a meal.

A 33-year-old tourist, also surnamed Zhang, visiting Hong Kong from central Anhui province complained that the guidelines were too many and too specific.

"You cannot possibly look through all of the rules before you go travelling. Also the rules are different in different places," he said. "I think it's not very feasible."

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