In China, general etiquette just became a law, specifically when you're planning to travel. CNN reports that a massive tourism law went into effect on October 1 that aims to combat the perception of Chinese travelers behaving unpleasantly.
The law takes effect as the internet and world media circulated a viral story of a Chinese teenager vandalizing an ancient Egyptian artifact with his name.
The new law is accompanied by a 64-page "Guidebook for Civilized Tourism," with illustrations, that includes several chapters specifically aimed at Chinese citizens who wish to travel and tour anywhere.
Although the rules are expected to be followed abroad, they also apply domestically, and target issues like tourist safety, unfair competition, and "forced shopping" excursions in which a travel agency would sell tourists cheap tours while bringing them to specific shopping centers for a commission from the shops.
Some of the most noteworthy reminders include: "When taking photos in tourist spots, do not fight and be patient. Do not force the others to take a picture with you, nor obstruct the others when they are photographing", and "Do not occupy the public toilet for a very long time. Do not leave footprints on the toilet seats and flush after use." The book even featured culturally specific suggestions; how women not wearing earrings in Spain would be perceived as unclothed, for instance.
Although some of the reminders may seem silly upon first glance, the guide contains other recommendations that could be appropriately applied in any culture: remember to say "please," "thank you," it's not acceptable to cut in a line or queue, and be sure to appropriately tip your server when the restaurant service was good.
CNN notes that the UN World Tourism Organization has put the number of Chinese nationals travelling abroad will reach 100 million by 2015, and that the Chinese overtook the Americans and Germans as the world's most exuberant tourism spenders last year by spending a record $102 billion.
Wang Yanqi, the director of the Research Center of Leisure Economy of China, said in a report that "Price wars were vicious in the past, while the recent rises are a sort of reasonable return to fair competition."
Any Chinese tour guides or agencies that are caught breaking the new laws will pay a stiff fine of roughly $49,000.[Image via this YouTube video about Chinese Tourists respecting other cultures and learning to behave themselves]