Published November 14, 2017

Popular Chinese Tourist Hotspot Vows To Stop Cheating Visitors

By Jordan Harris

Lijiang, one of China’s two UNESCO World Heritage towns nestled high up in Yunnan Province has long been known for its tourist traps and scams taking advantage of the many visitors that flock to the picturesque historic town. The local government has now vowed to clamp down on misleading and money-grabbing businesses in the town after a recent scandal where state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) released a scathing report about two hostels in the city that were hoodwinking and ripping off tourists.


CCTV reported that actual rooms at high-rated hostels in the town were completely different to photos advertised online. When one customer complained to staff at one place about having too many mosquitoes in his room, he was told that they were “pets,” and that killing one would result in a 100 yuan fine. “That’s just the way bed-and-breakfasts look in this town — if the facilities were any nicer, this would be a hotel and not a hostel,” one staff member at one of the hostels told an undercover CCTV reporter. They also revealed how managers would make staff create fake bookings in order to write positive online reviews for the hostel. Other places would just force customers to give a high rating by pestered them by repeated phone calls asking them to write decent reviews. 


Meituan, an online Chinese booking platform, quickly took down two of the hostels in question after the report was released. According to Sixthtone, the two hostels have since been ordered to close by the government and will undergo an investigation as the tourist town starts to clean up its act. 


Lijiang has suffered a falling reputation in recent years due to frequent stories of tourists being taken advantage of, something which the local government has previously done little to remedy. Last year one female tourist was brutally beaten by a group at a restaurant in the town. Local police only started to speed up their investigation into the matter when the woman posted about her experience online. Many visitors have vowed to never return after having bad experiences of their own. 


“We sincerely hope that Lijiang will return to order.” One of Lijiang's hostels posted on its Weibo account. “To all the unscrupulous merchants: Please stop tarnishing Lijiang’s image.” 


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