China’s international tourists have been the subject of a lot of criticism recently for representing China negatively while traveling overseas. But the Chinese have also fallen victim during their foreign adventures: New reports indicate that some Chinese tourists have become the target of robberies while on vacations.
According to the South China Morning Post, Chinese tourists are notorious for carrying exorbitant amounts of cash while traveling, making them an easy target for criminals. A sudden spate of robberies of Chinese tourists in Paris has now prompted warnings from the French government that tourists should opt to pay with credit cards, rather than cash.
Two recent cases in France made local headlines in China. Film producer Dong Dake discovered his hotel room in Paris had been looted after returning from the Cannes Film Festival. He estimated the value of all his stolen goods at around 200,000 yuan, or $32,621, in addition to irreplaceable photos and other mementos. The following day, a news crew with Chinese television station CCTV had their car windows smashed and were robbed of their phones, wallets and passports while covering the French Open tennis tournament.
The Chinese embassy in Paris says that that these incidents aren't unique. “We have made representations to the French government,” Li Ping, head of consular affairs at the embassy, said. “We hope the French side will take proper measures to protect the safety of [our] tourists and curb illegal behavior.”
Li also estimates that the number of reported thefts have increased more than 10 percent in Paris alone. However, the French newspaper Le Figaro says the number is closer to a 50 percent spike year-on-year, for all of France, adding that burglaries have also increased by 60 percent.
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French and Chinese tourism experts both agree that the Chinese have become particularly susceptible to such crimes because of their profligate ways when overseas, but especially so in France. The SCMP reports that more than a million Chinese visit France annually, with each one spending about $2,000 on average.
“There are reports of tourists getting robbed almost every day,” Jean-Francois Zhou, manager of Ansel Travel, a Paris-based tourism company that specializes in planning tours of both France and China. Zhou says 10 of his Chinese clients were robbed last October, and some lost as much as $26,000.
Chinese tourists’ expensive tastes have also inadvertently put a target on their backs. “A busload of Chinese tourists is like a van carrying gold bullion,” Li Lang, a manager at a Guangzhou travel agency said, even adding that sometimes drivers and hotels are suspected of corroboration with criminals.
Joseph Tung Yao-chung, the executive director of the Hong Kong Travel Industry Council, said Chinese tourists also should avoid wearing designer-label clothing while traveling in Europe to avoid being targeted.