China tour guide sacked for scolding tourists in video

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Screen grab of tourist guide threatening tourists in undated YouTube videoImage source, Other
Image caption,
A video of the incident has sent sparked outrage among social media users

A Chinese tour guide who was caught on camera berating tourists for not shopping enough has had her licence revoked after the video went viral.

The woman had threatened to cancel the group's next trip and not pay for their return tickets if they did not spend up to 3,000 yuan (£319; $483) each.

Officials in south-western Yunnan say she violated national tourism laws.

Since 2013, Chinese tour operators have been banned from enforcing shopping stops and seeking illegitimate profit.

In the four-minute video (in Chinese), the female tour guide pleads with a bus load of tourists, asking them: "Where are your sense of conscience and morals?"

"If all of you don't spend more than 3,000 or 4,000 [yuan], we'll cancel the Xishuangbanna trip, the tour company won't be responsible for the return to Shenyang," she warns.

The YouTube video, which has been widely circulated on Chinese-language social networking sites, has sparked outrage with many users sharing their own bad experiences of tour operators in China.

Analysis: Martin Yip, Hong Kong

Image source, AFP

Even Hong Kongers can feel a similar pain: if you sign up for a tour group to mainland China, you would always be brought to a few "designated shopping points" where promoters would demonstrate their products from Pu'er tea to medical ointment.

The difference is that tour guides seldom force Hong Kong tourists to shop like this Yunnan woman did with the mainlanders. Those who are not interested are usually free to wait outside, feeling their time is being wasted.

Forcing tourists to shop has been an issue for years in China, mainly as a result of the unreasonably low fees charged by travel agencies.

In an incident in May 2010, retired national tennis player Chen Youming died from a heart attack outside a jewellery shop in Hong Kong. This sent shockwaves across Hong Kong, and in mainland China, as Mr Chen apparently fell after a spat with his tour guide for not shopping. This was his first and final visit to Hong Kong.

China rolled out a new Tourism Law in 2013 hoping to crack down on forceful shopping and lowly-priced tour groups. This incident in Yunnan, however, suggests more needs to be done.

'Such a bandit'

In addition to revoking the tour guide's licence, Yunnan tourism officials said on Sunday the guide's travel agency had also been suspended from operating.

The company, Kunming Fenghua Travel Agency, was fined 20,000 yuan, a statement from the Yunnan Provincial Commission on Tourism Development said.

"First thing, the tour guide forced them to shop, if the video is real, then her words certainly violated the regulation. Secondly, her attitude is terrible. Third, she used abusive language. So based on these aspects, we can say she violated regulations," official Liu Kunfeng is quoted by Chinese radio station CRIEnglish as saying.

Several users on China's main microblogging service Weibo recalled similar incidents, some in the same province.

"More than just forcing you to shop, my tour guide made us pay fees and changed the itinerary without our consent. We called to file complaints but they cover up for each other. I'd say let's not go to Yunnan anymore. This is not an isolated incident, it's everywhere," one user posts.

Another user describes an encounter with a guide on a tour of some north-eastern provinces during the Spring Festival, China's most important annual holiday.

"The female tour guide was such a bandit. I almost got into a brawl with her. And that was a place with no mobile signal, where everybody were forced to spend money. They threatened us, but there was no phone signal, and we couldn't call the police."