Chinese tourists descending upon the town of Kidlington in the UK, for no apparent reason, made viral headlines in the Daily Mail this morning.
A handful of Facebook friends were happy to gloat over the Chinese’s ignorance and lack of discernment, because the the article speculated that they were probably fooled into believing that the nondescript English village had been used in the filming of Harry Potter and other popular English series.
While entertaining, the report certainly had a racist slant and was not amusing in the least. Yes, we all love those horror stories of misbehaving Chinese tourists overseas, but this was not the case here.
There are a few things which are wrong with the article.
It says that the tourists are Chinese, but the villagers went to look up a Japanese website to find out why they are coming. Have the villagers of Kidlington not heard, these are two languages of rivalling nations? When did they exchange notes on which idyllic English villages to sack and pillage, I mean, take selfies in?
Also, a Japanese inland tour operator was interviewed right at the end of the article, just to point out that the tourists are not Japanese. Hello, this is huge signpost that these English people aren’t even sure where their visitors are from. Since they can’t tell one Asian from another, how are they so sure that these tourists are Chinese? Could be Korean for all we know.
While the actions of these visitors must have been baffling to the residents of Kidlington, do they realise that Caucasian tourists are guilty of the same in quaint Chinese, Vietnamese, Laos, Thailand, Indian, Cambodian, (insert other “exotic” Asian destination) villages as well? What the tourists have done here is called Occidentalism – stereotyping the West through their Asian eyes. In short, the very opposite of Orientalism.
I hope everyone realises what happened in Kidlington is what global tourists have been doing to villages in developing countries daily and for decades since the advent of modern tourism. Why were these not news? So it is okay for tourists to ravage villages in developing countries, but not vice versa?
And don’t get me started on the shoddy reporting. If the reporter is convinced that these tourists are of Chinese origin, why wasn’t a Chinese tour operator interviewed instead? I myself am baffled why the residents didn’t try to communicate with someone from the tour group who could answer their questions.
Well, after all this guesswork, it may not be because their home has been mistaken for the set of some obscure English detective show. I can think of a very good reason why the tourists would slight the “quaint chocolate-box thatched houses” for “bog standard modern homes” – they want to buy one!
Kidlington is an Oxfordshire village – Oxford, okay – it might invoke some postcode envy back home where people don’t know any better.
We’ll see if I’m right.