Finally, another country can temporarily hoist the mantle of ugly tourism. The U.S. can take a breather, for China is close to the gold - no, make that the silver.
And, here is the story of that most recent example of poor behavior. Last week a group from China was on a Singapore Airlines flight and decided that the silverware, knives and forks, were actually souvenirs of their journey. This was some thirty sets of flatware. Shades of those days when we kept the airline magazine, perhaps a deck of cards or a bottle or two of spirits.
Their tour guide, after much protestation, finally reclaimed the utensils for the airline. The guide’s winning argument was that their behavior was affecting China’s image abroad. “Stop hurting the reputation of Chinese people”, he supposedly said. Wow, if it were only that easy, we all would be polite and courteous and welcomed tourists.
A place setting certainly is better than the old ashtray or even towel from the guest room. What sweet memories of travel. Where did this group get the idea that these utensils were for the taking? It appears that an earlier travel group from their province in China had decided this was an acceptable practice during a previous flight with Singapore Airlines. They had deplaned with quite the haul, and the word spread throughout town and country.
Sadly, China has yet to supplant the United States as the lead tourism ogre. We are still quite “ugly”, it is reported. But, everyone loves a good competition and the winner’s circle. China will simply need to try harder, particularly after the deputy-premier, Wang Yang, publically urged that Chinese should improve their behavior overseas. He even gave some examples: speaking too loudly in public, defacing art and not obeying pedestrian traffic signs. That is a good start for a list of not-to–do's. Right? Anyway, maybe it is time for the airlines to revert to plastic utensils.
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog 'A Guy Walks In'. LRA is a leading research and consulting company in the emerging discipline of Customer Experience Management (CEM). We work with our clients to help them design and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences in order to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, and company growth and profitability. We have built a range of quality assurance, mystery shopping, research, training and consulting solutions to help them do so.
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