Every time politicians make a speech – how ever suave – is a show by a team of public relations expert: from how each strand of hair is gelled and their postures all the way down to how they breathe on stage.
The reason for the elaborate act is simple: to persuade the country and the world to believe his or her credibility.
But what PR team can save a country’s reputation when its representatives are 83 million tourists known for embarrassing, sometimes appalling, acts?
Scrawling their names on 3000-plus-year-old Egyptian temples, urinating in public transportation, posing on a beach with a dying dolphin, spitting on the streets, or washing their feet in the fountain by the Louvre…
Perhaps a nation-wide educational programme and new laws would do.
Launched last Wednesday, a flagship news programme on China Central Television aired educational clips aimed atpromoting polite tourist behaviour for five days in a row: an indication of the Mainland’s desperate efforts to reverse these unfavourable stereotypes and improve its stained national image.
The programme was also China’s way of preparing its people for the country’s first tourism law in October, which makes good behaviour and respect for local customs and traditions a must.
Boasting the third biggest outbound tourist population and the largest source of international tourism spending (the latest stats by WTO said Chinese tourists spent an average US$102 billion in international tourism in 2012), mainland Chinese are often nicknamed “ill-mannered walking wallets” – a reputation so infamous that not even their colossal economy-saving spending can save.
What is noteworthy, however, is that images of the above-mentioned incidents went viral on Chinese social media first before gaining international attention: a sign that the country’s people are aware that this is poor behaviour and that they’re concerned with how they are perceived abroad.
Though more education on travel etiquette is undoubtedly needed, realising its need to improve its image – at least in the perspective of public relations – is already a huge step forward.
(Images courtesy of Business Insider)