What is the Tourist Misbehavior?
Bongkosh N. Rittichainuwat is Director of Research for APacCHRIE and Associate Professor at Siam University. Lin Feng is with Siam University.
Rittichainuwat (2016) called for a research study to assess the stereotypes of tourist misbehavior because there are many Chinese tourists who are polite, well-educated, and have well-manners, but have suffered from the general stereotypes that prevail against Chinese tourists. As the number of tourists increase, the greater frequency of perceived negative behavior also increases (Rittichainuwat 2016). This study hypothesizes that not only the Chinese people but other tourists can also have negative behaviors. To test this hypothesis, structured interviews with Chinese hotel employees (n=10) and international tourists (n=30) were conducted in Guangzhou and Xiamen, China in November 2017. Likewise, interviews with Thai hotel employees (N=60) were conducted in Thailand from October to December 2017. It was found that all of the Chinese hotel employees did not realize that speaking loudly in public area is perceived as impolite. In contrast, 28 out of 30 international tourists perceived that being loud in the public is a negative tourist behavior and considered impolite. This perception contradicts the public speaking principle, which encourages speaking loudly so that the speaker’s voice is audible even to the audience who sits at the back. Moreover, for Chinese employees, speaking loudly implies the sincerity of the speakers. However, international tourists perceive that loud voice is a violation on their privacy. Thai people perceive that speaking loudly is the trait of uneducated people.
Lin and Rittichainuwat (in progress) also found that almost half of the Thai hotel staff (n=28) mentioned that taking selfies is a misbehavior among Thai tourists. This perception occurred when the Thai government issued codes of conduct (appropriate dress code, and etiquette) during the Royal Cremation of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on 26 October 2017. The Television Pool of Thailand (Channel 3, Channel 5, Channel 7, and Channel 9) collaborated on a live coverage of the special event and announced that selfies with the portrait of His Majesty the late king was considered a misbehavior. Thus, most Thai people have been informed about the misbehavior that is selfie. The study concludes that cultural difference plays a role in shaping the stereotypes about misbehavior. The findings support the hypothesis that not only Chinese people but Thai tourists also have the same negative behaviors. Educating the tourists through traditional media during prime time and social media helps correct their misbehaviors.
Note: This research note is derived from the master thesis of Lin Feng under the supervision of Dr. Bongkosh Rittichainuwat.
Rittichainuwat, B. (2016). Does Tourism Break Down or Create Stereotype Barriers? CHRIE Communiqué. December, 30(12), 7, 9.