As Chinese tourists travel abroad more frequently, in recent years their views toward the world and themselves have changed.
“Chinese tourists, in the past, admired just about everything from foreign countries, especially developed countries. But this attitude has changed. Now Chinese tourists’ national pride is rising and they are starting to have a more balanced perspective – sometimes fastidious though – in the way they view things from a foreign land,” Liu said.
“For instance, they think the infrastructure in major cities in the US, France or other developed countries is not as new and advanced as that in China. They also take pride in China’s convenient internet lifestyle and efficient cashless payment systems. They think foreign countries are lagging behind in this field,” he told NewsChina.
Compared to non-Chinese tourists, Chinese are very sensitive about national image and national esteem. Chinese outbound travelers are looking for signs of respect.
“Chinese tourists often say they feel treated like second-class citizens, even when they spend a lot of money,” Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt at the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, said in an interview with CNN.
Arlt points out that service providers face the challenge of making Chinese guests feel welcome because these tourists are more prone to relating any unfriendly atmosphere to double-standards of treatment.
The Nielson report also supports this argument, showing that friendliness of locals to tourists is ranked ahead of affordability when Chinese tourists choose an overseas destination, following the top three concerns – beauty and uniqueness, safety and ease of visa procedures. In contrast, friendliness of locals to tourists is not one of the top five concerns of non-Chinese tourists.
“I remember when I dined in a local restaurant in Venice, the restaurant owner came and asked me, ‘Are you Japanese?’ I said ‘no, I’m Chinese.’ He seemed quite surprised and said ‘Sorry, I thought Chinese were rude, loud, always avoiding interaction with locals, either eye contact or conversation, but you are so gentle and polite…’ I must admit I felt bad about Chinese being stereotyped,” Yu Min, 30, a tourist from Hangzhou who recently visited Italy, told NewsChina.
For locals in tourist destinations, Chinese tourists leave them with an impression of being noisy, rude and ill-mannered. Some Chinese behavior, such as queue jumping, littering, spitting or flouting traffic laws, is detrimental to the image of the country’s people.
Arlt says that too many locals complain about the negative side of Chinese tourists, but the fact is that those noisy, rude and uncivilized first-time tourists are “more visible.” There are still a great number of polite, educated tourists, who speak perfect English and are frequent travelers, who blend into global cultures so well that they are seldom identified as Chinese.
“When we talk about Chinese tourists, we must understand the community’s diversity, complexity and development. Indeed, many Chinese tourists do not understand the local rules and customs in the beginning and make mistakes. But they have been learning and making progress over the years,” Ge said.