The boom in Chinese tourists traveling abroad appears to have led to at least one embarrassing incident for Chinese officials. Earlier this month, Mandarin characters were found etched into a 3,500-year-old relic inside Egypt’s Luxor temple. An ashamed Chinese visitor snapped a photo of the graffiti — which read, “Ding Jinhao was here” — and posted it to the country’s popular microblog, Sina Weibo.
As state news agency Xinhua reports, soon after the image went viral it was revealed that “Ding Jinhao” is a 15-year-old boy from Nanjing. While his parents have since apologized, the image prompted public outcry, adding to the already growing discussion about whether Chinese travelers are getting a reputation for having bad manners abroad.
While the phenomenon of tourists behaving badly is hardly new, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang is among those criticizing his countryfolk for “uncivilized behavior,” the Shanghaiist reports. Wang commented on the issue during a State Council teleconference on China’s impending Tourism Law, set to be implemented Oct. 1, 2013, according to Xinhua. The law focuses on better travel for Chinese by regulating price-fixing and tourists’ rights, but also aims to polish Chinese manners.
Spitting, jaywalking and talking loudly in public places are a few things Wang is hoping the act will improve, according to the Washington Post. He stressed that respecting local religious beliefs and customs and social ethics are important in developing the fast-growing tourism industry in China.
Despite the uproar over the graffiti incident, some are taking a more sympathetic view of Chinese manners. As Quartz reports, a recent blog post by Liang Pan, a Chinese national studying in New York, asked for “more understanding” when dealing with the influx of Chinese tourists, some of whom are traveling abroad for the first time.
Chinese travelers spend more money abroad than tourists from any other country. More than 80 million Chinese traveled internationally in 2011, outpacing Germans who have led the world in overseas travel spending for the first time.