Chinese ‘Problem’ Tourists: Governing from a Distance

Authors: Michael O'Regan*, Bournemouth University
Topics: China, Tourism Geography
Keywords: China, tourism, Chinese, soft power
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Maryland C, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Chinese Outbound Tourism has grown at a breakneck pace—and so have reports of ‘uncivilized behavior’ by Chinese tourists. After a number of overseas incidents involving Chinese tourists; official media and many on China’s social media have demonized such tourists, while senior politicians, such as the President Xi Jinping suggest such problem tourists damage the image of the Chinese people. Rather than see such behaviors as a normal part of a growing leisure class, various politicalized discourse have come to regard these tourists as distinct and in need of reform, sanction or treatment. As a focus unduly on the private lives of tourists intensifies, travel bans to the compulsory provision of information are increasingly been used to educate, reform and punish tourists. The question arises to why the issue of the ‘problem’ tourist has arisen and the appropriateness of the government response. Using critically analyzed structural, ideological, and psychological sources, as well as history and cultural critique, this paper will explore the contested images of ‘the problem tourist’ and argue that while the latitude to pursue leisure travel has increased, so too have the emerging middle-class become bearers of privatized responsibilities.

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