China cracks down on home-grown tourist 'vandals'

China cracks down on home-grown tourist 'vandals'

Chinese tourists who vandalise artefacts or public property at home can now be detained for up to 10 days under a tourism law which takes effect as China welcomes its National Day holidays this week.

Not only is it common to see graffiti at tourist sites like the Great Wall in China, it is also not uncommon to hear of Chinese tourists leaving their "mark" overseas

. Changzhou resident Zhao Genda, for example, scratched his name on a protected coastal rock in Taiwan in 2010, while Nanjing teenager Ding Jinhao did the same on a wall inside the 3,500-year- old Luxor Temple in Egypt earlier this year.

Besides "ugly" tourists, the first such law in China also takes aim at things like dishonest sales tactics - a move welcomed by those hoping it will help clean up China's messy tourism business. Decades in the making, the law was finally passed in April by China's State Council, which could no longer ignore rising complaints against the country's tourists and tourist sector.

Last year, Chinese tourists overtook Germans as the top spenders worldwide. Despite good intentions, the law has already drawn flak, from the very people that it aims to protect: tourists. Many are especially unhappy with a clause that bans tours with shopping stops - which has led to a jump in the prices of travel packages this holiday.

These have gone up by an average of about 30 per cent for outbound tours, going by a check by Beijing News.

A six-day tour to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand costing 4,600 yuan (S$943) last month has gone up by 32 per cent to 6,090 yuan this month.

"Every year, Oct 1, (we) go travelling. The new tourism law has made us unable to travel," said a netizen named Eva, who complained about costlier tours on her microblog account.

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