Chinese tour guide barred after forced shopping trip in scenic Guilin

  • Visit to beauty spot spoiled as tourists ordered off the bus to spend, spend, spend
Guilin is renowned for its scenic cruises along the Li River, through magnificent karst mountains. But one tour group was forced on an unexpected shopping trip. Photo: Alamy
Guilin is renowned for its scenic cruises along the Li River, through magnificent karst mountains. But one tour group was forced on an unexpected shopping trip. Photo: Alamy
A tour guide in the scenic city of Guilin in southern China has been stripped of her licence after forcing tourists to spend at least 20,000 yuan (US$2,900) in local shops.
The tour guide, surnamed Zhao, was captured on video telling her customers they had an hour to spend the money and she would accept no excuses.
The short clip, which has been circulating widely on Chinese social media this week, was filmed on June 1, according to online news portal QQ.com.
“You might have thousands of reasons to refuse me, such as you already have this stuff at home,” Zhao said in the video. “I don’t care why you have come to Guilin. Now you have chosen this group … get off the bus and spend 20,000 yuan [in] an hour.”
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Some of the tourists can be heard on the video murmuring “how can it be like this?”

The 55 members of the tour group, from Hunan province in central China, had travelled to Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region from May 30 to June 2. According to their itinerary, they were supposed to visit three shops on the day the incident happened, but instead visited six, the QQ.com report said.

One of the tourists bought more than 10 quilts, at more than 4,000 yuan each.Guilin is among China’s most popular tourism destinations, famous for its boat cruises on the Li River, which winds through beautiful karst mountains along its banks.

The Guilin tourism bureau said on Tuesday it had ordered Zhao to apologise to the group, and had revoked her tour guide licence.

In its statement on microblogging platform Weibo, the authority also said it was investigating her employer.

Ferrying tourists along China’s Yellow River

Tour guides are banned from forcing tourists to shop or join programmes charging extra fees. A State Council regulation issued two years ago set a 10,000-50,000 yuan penalty for individuals violating the rule, and a further 100,000-500,000 yuan fine for their tour company.

Despite the crackdown in recent years, it is not uncommon for Chinese tourists to be coerced by tour guides into extra spending during their trips. China’s authorities have repeatedly reminded the public to be wary of companies that lure potential tourists with extremely low group fees.

In July last year, a group of 300 elderly people, from the central province of Henan, were reportedly forced to buy jewellery from a shop in Hong Kong. The tour agency charged them just 380 yuan for the whole package and promised there would be no forced shopping activity, according to Henan TV.

But, despite the assurance, they were taken to a jewellery shop where their tour guide told them, “Henan people, spend some money to earn face for your Henan folks.”

Those who did not spend as they were urged had to wait in the shop for hours and were cursed by the tour guide, according to the television report. It is not clear if the tour guide or the agency received any penalty.

Source: SCMP

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