Ed­u­cate tourists to pre­vent van­dal­ism

China Daily (Canada) - - WORLD -

The week­longNa­tional Day hol­i­day is around the cor­ner, and the ex­pected tourism boom may also see some peo­ple van­dal­iz­ing tourist sites and an­tiques.

Chen Zhicheng is the lat­est ad­di­tion to the van­dal list. Af­ter ne­ti­zens con­demned him for writ­ing his name and poem in red paint on the cliff of a moun­tain in Bei­jing’s Fang­shan dis­trict, he was forced to erase them. Though he could be banned from vis­it­ing cer­tain tourist sites, he is not the only one of his kind and un­for­tu­nately may not be the last.

InMay 2013, Ding Jin­hao, a mid­dle school stu­dent from East China’s Jiangsu province, carved his name on a sculp­ture in Luxor Tem­ple in Egypt. And in Septem­ber last year, a cou­ple carved their names on the an­tique water tank in the Palace Mu­seum. Ding apol­o­gized for his act, but the cou­ple could not be iden­ti­fied and went un­pun­ished.

Some ex­perts sug­gest graf­fiti boards be put up at scenic spots, so that those who want to can write their names to feel a sense of ful­fill­ment. Not a bad idea. But will they pre­vent van­dal­ism?

Of­fi­cials at Bam­boo Sea, a scenic spot in South­west China’s Sichuan province, had found away to stop peo­ple from carv­ing their names on bam­boos and trees. In Au­gust last year, they ear­marked a spe­cial area for vis­i­tors to carve their names on bam­boos. As a re­sult, tourists stopped writ­ing their names on bam­boos and trees in the rest of the scenic spot.

Yet in theMu­tianyu sec­tion of the GreatWall in Bei­jing, the graf­fiti walls didn’t stop peo­ple from carv­ing their names in other places. That’s be­cause some peo­ple want to write their names in spots where oth­ers can’t reach to feel su­pe­rior to the rest. It is this dis­torted men­tal­ity that prompts some to write their names on pre­cious ob­jects and in tourist sites.

There­fore, spe­cial graf­fiti walls alone can­not solve the prob­lem. It has to be ac­com­pa­nied by stricter pro­tec­tion laws and equally strict en­force­ment.

The cur­rent penalty for van­dal­iz­ing a tourist spot or an­tique is rather light. The harsh­est pun­ish­ment is per­haps be­ing black­listed as a tourist. For ex­am­ple, the cur­rent crim­i­nal law says that only those “dam­ag­ing an­tiques ma­li­ciously” face crim­i­nal charges, while hold­ing those who “in­ad­ver­tently” cause dam­age in­no­cent. And sus­pects al­ways say, “I did not no­tice”, to es­cape pun­ish­ment. Ex­perts have long been call­ing for the dele­tion of “ma­li­ciously” from the clause, and we hope leg­is­la­tors would lis­ten to their plea. While that may help, it is also nec­es­sary to ed­u­cate peo­ple about the im­por­tance of scenic and his­tor­i­cal sites, and an­tiques to help them change their mind­set. Some peo­ple carve their names in tourist spots to let oth­ers know they had “been there and done that”. So tourism of­fi­cials across the coun­try should ex­plain to vis­i­tors why it is vi­tally im­por­tant to respect the sanc­tity of the sites they visit. The visit to a place can be turned into an ed­u­ca­tion tour in civil be­hav­ior. Most tourists be­have well; only a few have given Chi­nese tourists a bad name. This type of tourists should be iden­ti­fied and warned to pre­empt van­dal­ism, a job that can be ac­com­plished only with the help of tour guides and agen­cies.

The author is vicepres­i­dent of tourism un­der the Chi­nese So­ci­ety for Future Stud­ies. This is an ex­cerpt from his in­ter­view with China Daily’s Zhang Zhoux­i­ang.

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