There are many ways to get to Xishuangbanna, the serene city located in China’s Yunnan province. The way these poor tourists were brought there leaves a lot wanting. Tour guides can be hit and miss, and sometimes, just sometimes, they just hit us the wrong way. A video of a tour guide gone wild has been spreading like wildfire on Chinese social media. Tourists released the video – which can be found on our website – shows the Yunnan female tour guide, or “nǚ dǎo yóu” (女导游) in Mandarin, going on an exasperated tirade as the visitors on hour tour bus was simply not buying enough.
Xishuangbanna – known for its laid back and peaceful lifestyle – was not what the pressured tourists had coming.
The scoop was first picked up on the second of May by the Xinhua news agency that released a special media telegram in the wake of the dissatisfaction with the tourists' situation. The video soon afterwards began to make rounds on social media after its exposure on the PRC’s largest national television station CCTV. The official response has been decidedly on the side of the tourists as no one should face this kind of abuse. Netizens in particular have criticized the tour guides vulgar use of language.
A snapshot of the infamous video.
The video captures the four minute tirade in which the offending tour guide laments the poor levels of consumption of her passengers and went out a tirade as the bus headed to their next station. She compared those on her bus with the tourists on the other bus that was part of the tour which, she laments, have purchased so much. In the video, the tour guide claims that she has "parents and children” and asked them if they could live with their conscious if they decided not to buy.
At one point of the video the driver laments that her “customers are just like pixiu”. While a lot of translation can be done almost word per word and the general meaning can be secreted, a little explanation must be made here. Pixiu is a traditional Chinese monster. More specifically, it is a mythical monster that has, well, to put it lightly, it is a monster without an anus. What she was telling the customers was, essentially, that they have been consuming and consuming without ever giving back to her. They were, in other words, horrible consuming monsters.
The tourists were – according to the guide – just like Pixiu, consuming and consuming and never “giving back”
The film ends with a climax as she provides a new itinerary as she goes about listing which tourist will buy what product. t the end of her tirade she tells which tourist should buy what products. Guiding tourists to go ahead and purchase “yellow dragon jade” (huánglóng yù;黄龙玉), cigarette holders and various cosmetics. In fact, she then threatens them if they don’t go ahead and purchase something that she will cancel the tour and well, the customers will have to go home by themselves. Specifically, she threatened if they did not all spend 3000-4000 Yuan the travel agency would no longer be responsible for the tourists return tickets to Shenyang, and would have to pay for the 2000 Yuan ticket home by themselves.
While “yellow dragon jade” is beautiful it must have felt terrible to feel forced to buy it.
This happens in the wake of previous cases of unruly tour guides in Yunnan. However this time around, with various agencies already in place, the National Tourism Administration and various law enforcement agencies have been put in to play to access the truth of this video and determine who was involved.
In fact, sadly Yunnan is not foreign to these types of outbursts from tour guides. Over the years there have been many reports of travel agencies & tour guide in Yunnan taking repeatedly forcing tourists to spend.
As an example among many, consider how in late 2011, a different – we hope - female tour guide, that had scolded tourists in her care in Dali, had her guide license revoked for three years. Her primary crime was to tell tourists heading to a show that the first row was reserved for the richer tourists – not those who paid so little tour guide fees.
This tour guide exclaimed that“the first row is for rich people”
In 2013, during the Chinese so-called “golden week” for tourism – the period in which many Chinese decide to go on vacations - one tour guide even went so far as allegedly threatening to hold a knife to a tourist.
One of the offending tour guides allegedly told his victims/tourists, that "Tour guides in Shangri-la are very horrible, have you heard? Tour guides in Shangri-la will put a knife on your neck, you know. Let's see if I will put a knife on your neck today." This case involved the forced purchase of what was advertised under threat as being 'Tibetan home meals' costing 380 RMB each. Those who purchased the so-called “home meals” were brought to a big hall where dancers performed which does not sound like your average Tibetan meal. Those who refused and in the end were unwilling to pay were simply thrown off the bus. Some where actually told to off the bus some two hours from the nearest city. They were, in other words, left in the middle of nowhere in Yunnan.
Some people go to Yunnan to find themselves in the middle of nowhere – others are forcibly dropped off in the middle of nowhere.
However things on the whole are looking brighter for tourists in Yunnan. In recent years, as a response to travel agencies/tour guides forcing tourists to spend in Yunnan, various government organizations were created in order to combat this trend. In early 2014, Yunnan Tourism Development Commission created new departments in order to maintain a pleasant tourism environment in Yunnan. In the wake of this most recent example the National Tourism Administration (NTA) came out and claimed that the actions of the Yunnan “nvdaoyou” was in violation of the “tourism law”. The Yunnan province tourism development committee in turn responded that a law enforcement team was put in motion to begin investigating what has happened. The NTA said it was looking in to all visitor complaints, as well as its media exposure, in order to go ahead and fine the offenders involved and that the Kunming tourism inspection team have already arranged personnel investigation.
Below is an extended transcript of the events as it occurred in the video:
The host: Many people whom have travelled with a tour group must have had the experience that the tour bus abruptly turns to a shopping place which is meaningless to visit. Then the tour guide urges all the tourists get off the bus to shopping for one or two hours, if tourists don’t shopping, the bus will not restart their way to tour. The tourists already known that the tour guide and tour company will gain the profit from their shopping consumption, so as it is a common phenomenon exist in the tour industry, most tourists have to accept this fact. However, recently there is a 4 minute video that has been very hot in the internet. Inside, the tour guide insult the tourist who didn’t get their consumption anticipation, which makes tourists realize that it is not the time to continue accepting been humiliated.
The Tour Guide: If you want to be like a Pixiu, who only know absorb while no discharge, then I am sorry that you cannot follow me to the next stop. Because my tour bus is prepared for the people who have virtue, moral and conscience, otherwise you don’t deserve to sit in my tour bus. If you were told don’t have to buy things when you signed up with the travel agency, then you turn to them. Why you follow me these days for eating and playing? What is your purpose to come Yunnan, for cheating, eating, drinking, visiting and riding a plane?
The host: Shopping or not should be a voluntary choice decided by every customer, but according to the arbitrary logic of this female tour guide, people who buy things all have virtue, morality and conscience, or else, people are cheating for eating, drinking and playing. This statement has left many dumbfounded.
The Tour Guide: I rarely get angry and scold people, but go to see other travel agency and all the tour bus, there are 53 tour buses today, the tourists from other bus all bought bracelet which is worth 30 thousand RMB or 40 thousand RMB, while in our bus, nobody bought things, the consumption amount can’t reach 10 thousand RMB, even 5 thousand RMB. What the whole people in one bus bought even not as much as one person bought in other bus. You should feel ashamed for this.
The host: According to the current price, 30 thousand RMB or 40 thousand RMB is enough for a pleasing Europe journey, but as the tour guide said, a bracelet which costs 30 thousand RMB or 40 thousand RMB becomes a standard necessity for the Yunnan journey. We don’t know when the travelling price of mainland becomes so high-standard.
The Tour Guide: I have older parents and children in my family, you don’t need to consider for me, but I need your returns as I give you a lot. If now is your sister, wife or your family member stand here, will you let them give much while get nothing? I always like speaking forthrightly, everyone has conscience, if you even don’t have a bit of conscience, I believe you will get the retribution.
The host: She is still talking about the conscience; people who buying things are conscientious, buying nothing are conscienceless. The tour guide should ask herself that if she deserves to a conscientious person in the light of her serving attitude.
The Tour Guide: I don’t request you to buy things amount to 80 thousand RMB and 100 thousand RMB, or less than 60 thousand RMB and 50 thousand RMB. But at least you need to buy something reaches 5 or 6 thousand RMB. (Swear) You two or three people should feel compunctious for just buying 1 thousand RMB. Even the beggar need get the support and respect, but you know little to give people a little bit of respect. What are you doing here? As it says God is watching above! God is watching what you are doing!
The host: After finish talking about the conscience, the tour guide stats to talk about the relief. It’s a good saying that ”God is watching above”, facing the customers who should be the “real god”, the tour guide’s attitude is so wicked, shouting insults. We don’t know if she has considered what the god will think of her?
The Tour Guide: If you continue to keep this attitude, sorry that our tour to Xishuangbanna will be cancelled. The round trip air tickets of Xishuangbanna will costs 2 thousand RMB, and you will spend 3 days to have fun there. You can calculate by yourself that how much it will cost in total. As for your air ticket to back home, I don’t care where you come from, no matter from Shenyang, Henan or Xi’an, the one-way trip is 1,980 RMB. You buy it by yourself, our travel agency doesn’t have the responsibility for you.
The host: As the forced consumption behavior fails, she begins to threaten tourists. Not only cancel the trip, but also directly expel the tourists back home. She wants to be done with their contract relationship, just by one sentence that “Our travel agency doesn’t have the responsibility for you”.
The Tour Guide: Next stop, buy Yellow Dragon Jade! I told you yesterday, males should buy cigarette filter tip and holder. Thirdly, if you know older people that have arthritis, buy them a yellow, good bracelet. If you have children in your family, buy him a Chinese zodiac (jade). As come to the essential oil, I want to ask that which cosmetic brand you usually to use. You are all using cosmetic products. Don’t tell me you never used cosmetic products before. People can lose other things except the face. Do you know what advertisement is playing on the TV now? Selling butt mask! Even the butt need to use mask, it’s so embarrassing that you don’t use facial mask.
As well as working at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (Canada’s top think tank on Asia), Joe has been a regular at the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations conferences and has received an award for his analysis work on China from the illustrious Fraser Institute. He’s currently wrapping up his two-year policy analysis project which looks at over 40 years of the UNESCO World Heritage Center and China tourism-related official documents.