Is banning bad manners a good thing?
Updated: 2017-05-03 07:02:51
A kid dances with foreign participants at the China-ASEAN Expo Tourism Exhibition in 2015 in Guilin. [Photo/VCG]
After many unpleasant incidents in recent years involving rude, unruly and sometimes illegal behavior by Chinese tourists at home and abroad, national tourism authorities have stepped up punishments aimed at curbing some bad acts and repairing the reputation of Chinese tourists.
The Tentative Regulations on the Management of Uncivilized Tourist Behavior, issued in 2015 by the National Tourism Bureau, is the first national-level legislation seeking to crack down on such behavior. It's also known as a "tourist blacklist". It claims to collect information on misbehaving tourists and share it with police, customs, banks and other authorities, which could impose penalties.
Locally, for example, the Shenzhen Travel Association has released its own municipal regulation, which took effect on April 1.
Both tourists and travel-service providers who display uncivilized behavior on tours will be blacklisted.
While many people applaud the new measures, saying they are effective in deterring people from showing their worst sides while traveling, others have pointed to some technical difficulties and concerns that could make implementing the "blacklist" difficult, or even detrimental to its very purpose.
For example, while various government agencies and authorities could help collect information on "bad behavior", who has the authority to objectively define such behavior? How can these authorities avoid invasions of people's privacy while at the same time trying to judge and document their behavior?
So, is a "tourist blacklist" helpful in rooting out bad behavior by Chinese tourists?
A blacklist is the most powerful deterrent against bad tourist behavior.
1. Many people behave much worse than they usually would if they think they won't be held responsible for what they do while traveling in a strange place. The blacklist makes it possible for a bad record to follow people and eventually make them pay for it.
2. Previous measures against unruly tourists failed to yield good results because various government agencies didn't work together to build a unified database. The joint blacklist resolves that problem and should be much more powerful.
3. Linking people's behavior while traveling to their standing in their normal social circles, especially their credit record and their bank loans, is very effective and could make them control themselves better.
A blacklist has many potential legal and moral dangers.
1. It is difficult to come up with a single set of standards over what is "bad" tourist behavior among all government and law enforcement agencies involved in maintaining the blacklist. Without such a unified set of standards, the blacklist would be useless.
2. Some of the measures involved in making the blacklist could be in violation of privacy laws. Even when people break the law or disrupt public order, their privacy is still protected by law. Without resolving this potential legal danger, it would be hard to implement the blacklist.
3. Threatening people with consequences is not the best way to change bad behavior. Instead of punishing people, it would be more effective to make them realize how harmful their behavior is, not only to themselves but also to the reputation of the country.