During a diving trip in Phuket, Thailand, three Chinese tourists allegedly touched a starfish and stepped on coral reefs, violating a marine protection law and facing up to two years in prison.
Two were jailed after their selfie with a starfish went viral on social media, according to the Bangkok Post. While on a diving excursion off Koh Racha Yai, they stepped on coral reefs and held up starfish for selfies.
Sanyang Qin and Wen Zhang were taken by a representative of the travel agency to meet investigators at the Chalong station, according to police. On Thursday, while they were diving at Ao La off Koh Racha Yai, three Chinese tourists were accused of holding up starfish and climbing on coral reefs to snap photographs.
An investigation conducted by the Phuket Marine and Coastal Resource Conservation Centre revealed that the accused had actually committed the crime after posting their photos and videos on social media on Friday.
In response to police questions, the two tourists admitted wrongdoing. Police intend to bring them before the court after gathering evidence of disobedience of a ministerial directive for the preservation of marine resources in Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi.
The third tourist is being sought for the same offense. Thailand’s authorities have become increasingly proactive in protecting its marine environment in recent years. To help its environs recover from mass tourism, the country has instituted new rules and regulations aimed at protecting coral reefs and endangered marine species.
Coral reefs under threat
In addition to providing ecosystem services such as food, tourism, coastal protection, and climate regulation, coral reefs are under threat from factors such as climate change, pollution, overfishing, and tourism.
More than half of the world’s coral reefs will collapse by 2050, according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). There are about 2 percent of coral reefs in Thailand, but they have declined by 50 percent in the past three decades.
The Thai government has taken measures to protect and restore its coral reefs, such as banning fishing and anchoring in some areas, establishing marine parks, and promoting coral transplantation. It is important to raise awareness and enforce regulations among tourists and tour operators, however.
Chinese tourists’ unruly behavior sparks concerns in global travel destinations
In recent months, an increasing number of incidents involving Chinese tourists exhibiting disruptive behavior have raised concerns in popular travel destinations worldwide. From cultural insensitivity to disregard for local customs, these incidents have strained relationships and sparked calls for greater awareness and education among travelers.
Reports of Chinese tourists behaving badly have emerged from various countries, with incidents ranging from unruly behavior on airplanes to damage caused to historical landmarks. These actions have not only tarnished the reputation of Chinese tourists but have also strained diplomatic ties and left local authorities grappling with the issue.
The rise in outbound Chinese tourism, fueled by a growing middle class and easier access to travel, has amplified the impact of such incidents. However, it is important to note that these behaviors are not representative of all Chinese tourists, but rather a small minority.
To address these concerns, travel agencies and Chinese authorities are working together to promote responsible travel. Initiatives include education campaigns to inform tourists about local customs and etiquette, as well as stricter enforcement of regulations and penalties for misconduct.
Furthermore, the Chinese government has also acknowledged the issue and has taken steps to implement stricter travel guidelines, encouraging its citizens to be respectful and considerate when traveling abroad.
As the number of Chinese tourists continues to rise, it is crucial for both travelers and destination countries to foster mutual understanding and respect. Through effective communication, education, and collaboration, it is hoped that the incidents of unruly behavior will diminish, allowing for a more positive and harmonious experience for all involved.