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Chinese Tourists Warned of Travel Hazards

The Chinese National Tourism Administration issued a notice over the weekend urging travel agencies to be more cautious when organizing tours to destinations where Chinese have been attacked.


In recent months, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received reports of robbery and theft cases against Chinese tourists, such as Malaysia, Switzerland, Russia and South Africa. It is believed that Chinese tourists are targeted because they tend to carry a lot of cash on them, not being accustomed to using credit cards or travelers' checks.


"Travel agencies should not arrange tours to these areas and should adjust their travel routes if time permits," the notice read.


It also advises travel agencies to give tourists some basic knowledge on how to guard against robbery and theft and what to do in an emergency situation such as a bombing or other terror attack.


The administration also ordered tourism authorities at all levels to set up a mechanism to sort out and publish safety information about the various foreign destinations.


At present, about 100 foreign countries are open to Chinese tourists. In 2004, a total number of 29 million person-times from the mainland traveled overseas, according to statistics from the China National Tourism Administration. One person-time is one round trip made by one person in one year.  


According to the China International Travel Service (CITS) office in Beijing, the terror attacks in Britain and Egypt have reduced tourism to these countries.


"We had to cancel several group tours to the Mediterranean recently," said an employee at the office who gave only a surname, Zheng. "Groups setting out in October were also severely affected."


However, the World Tourism Organization predicted the recent attacks would have only a short-lived effect on tourism as people come to accept higher levels of uncertainty than before.


Li Wei, director of the Centre for Counter-terrorism Studies of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said tourists should learn self-defense skills and be as alert as possible at all times.


Li suggested that people traveling to foreign countries should not go to crowded places and take useful contact information, such as the phone numbers of local Chinese embassies, with them.


Li also advised people who plan to visit foreign countries to search for travel safety tips on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


(China Daily August 23, 2005)

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