A Chinese European Holiday

Almost every country in the world has seen an influx of Chinese tourists in some form or other. The projection for Europe will be 5.5 million inbound Chinese tourists for 2017, a 10% increase from 2016 (I'm double-checking these numbers as they appear to be too low, will update when I find out for sure). The latest catch phrase for them is that 'They are out of the buses and into the rental cars.'

Chinese drivers have been causing a lot of chaos on European roads, well, many of them anyway. The German Autobahn has always been a popular experience for visitors but now with many driving from Italy, through France, Switzerland and Germany, it's been a learning experience for all. If you've been to Switzerland, you'll remember the many winding mountain passes. What's been happening this summer on Swiss mountain passes is that the Chinese drivers are, instead of staying in their lanes, driving on the dividing line. They then stop in the middle of the road, get out and take scenic photos all the while with a bevy of cars behind them.

Image source: newlyswissed.ch, The Grimsel Pass

Image source: newlyswissed.ch, The Grimsel Pass

The Swiss are great mountain drivers, they even roll their eyes at Dutch tourist drivers, who live in a very flat country, so you can just imagine how annoyed they would be at Chinese drivers. I do sympathize with all tourist drivers driving through Switzerland though. When we lived there, it freaked me out driving on those narrow winding roads. Christoph urged me to do it regularly for practice. My first time driving up and down a mountain was NOT fun. I did not dare look out my side window in case I steered us down the side of the mountain! Mind you, it was also raining that day... great.

Another faux pas that happened recently was in Berlin where two Chinese tourists were arrested for taking photos of themselves doing Nazi salutes in front of the Parliament building (they were each fined 500 EUR and have continued their vacation outside of Germany). The Chinese government has been doing its part to try and circumvent such cultural misunderstandings. Our Chinese friends tell us that the moment they switch their mobile phones on in Europe, they instantly receive numerous messages reminding them to keep up China's image by respecting the cultural dos and don'ts while vacationing. The messages will most probably add tips on driving and photo-taking as well now.

Happy summer everyone!