Chinese tourists arriving at Singapore’s Changi Airport on Friday (September 22) were given a special welcome souvenir – a pamphlet of dos and don’ts that runs nearly 30 pages.
The guidebook covers issues from behavior in public areas to Singapore’s strict traffic rules, including advices such as: “Don’t try to bribe custom officials when you are rejected entry with a valid visa” and a reminder to flush the toilet after use.
During a speech at the airport, Chinese embassy’s charge d’affaires, Fang Xinwen, mentioned that more than 1.5 million visitors arrived in Singapore from mainland China in the first half of the year.
Fang went on to add that with an increasing number of Chinese tourists visiting Singapore, behavioural and personal safety problems have emerged in recent years.
Back in 2013 for example, a tour group of 30 pocketed stainless-steel cutlery from a Singapore Airlines plane and refused to return them. It was only when the group’s tour guide said that the act was “hurting the reputation of Chinese people” that they gave in.
The solution to reinforce “civilized” behaviour among these mainland tourists – a pamphlet of dos and don’ts.
Dos and don’ts
The pamphlet was launched ahead of China’s National Day “golden week” holiday from October 1 to 8, of which large numbers of Chinese tourists are expected to come to Singapore.
According to a joint report from Ctrip, China’s largest travel site, and the country’s Tourism Academy, Singapore is set to be the third most-popular destination for outbound Chinese tourists from October 1 to 8.
The pamphlet is essentially a comprehensive guide to touring Singapore and includes an introduction to Singapore, relevant procedures to obtaining a tourist visa, and helplines and contacts in case of an emergency.
Here is a snippet and translation of what is included inside the pamphlet.
- Reach out to the airline staff if you feel disturbed by other passengers. Don’t get into a fight.
- Give a proper tip (in cash) to the hotel porter who helped carried the luggages to your room.
- Give precedence to others when taking photos at tourist sites. Don’t fight for spots or hinder others when they are taking pictures. Please thank the person who has helped to take the photo.
- Dress clean and proper. Although the weather in Singapore is hot, don’t reveal the chest and bare arms.
- Ask for permission if you don’t have time and wish to jump the queue.
- Don’t take the life vests and blankets off the plane.
- Don’t bring durian (a fruit known for its strong odor) on public transportation.
- Don’t take the ashtray or bath towels from guest rooms.
- Don’t use towels or bed sheets to wipe your shoes.
- Don’t evade bus fare.
Thailand has issued a similar etiquette manual to Chinese tourists
Singapore is not the first country to hand out such etiquette manuals to tackle uncouth behaviours from Chinese tourists.
In 2015, Thailand issued etiquette manuals in Mandarin for Chinese tourists who were expected to travel to Thailand for Chinese New Year that year. The manual instructed Chinese visitors on museum etiquette, requested visitors to not touch museum paintings and warned against using public property as lavatory facilities.
Improving the image of Chinese tourists
The Chinese embassy mentioned that the introduction of the pamphlet was to help Chinese tourists improve their image. Similarly, the embassy would do more to promote “civilized” tourism moving forward.
Similarly, the Chinese government has also recently stepped up its efforts to change the world’s perception of its mainland travellers. In 2013, China’s National Tourism Administration released a 64-page handbook called ‘Guidelines on Civilised Travel Abroad’, which discourages Chinese tourists from behaving in an uncivilized manner. This includes leaving footprints on toilet seats and cutting lines.
The pamphlet is available for free and Chinese tourists can pick them up at any Changi Airport terminals or an airline or tour agency of their choice.
E-pamphlets are also available on the Chinese Embassy’s website.