They’ve been using facial recognition to keep tourists in check.
It’s an idea that’s as old as global travel: a rude traveler blacklist. In theory, it would make everyone happier. But there are a lot of questions that arise with the idea—how do you know who the actual bad tourists are versus the ones in the wrong place at the wrong time? How long is a person subjected to being on this list? Is it fair? Will it really change long-term behavior? Tourism officials in Beijing want to find out.
It all came to a head during the three-day Qingming Festival, a traditional Chinese holiday that brings thousands of people to the capital city. As the Global Times reports, tourists were spotted “climbing peach trees, picking flowers, damaging plants” and those who were spotted “fishing near the lake and selling things privately in the park.”
This isn’t the first time the city has seen bad behavior from visitors. In 2017, there were facial scanners installed inside both the male and female restrooms at the Temple of Heaven. The reason: The number of locals stealing toilet paper was increasing. China’s National Tourism Administration has been keeping a close eye on ill-behaved travelers since 2016, when they placed 20 people on a blacklist for a number of reasons regarding public disobedience (think: climbing statues, fighting, and stealing things from parks).
According to CNN Travel, the 20-person blacklist ballooned to 670 in 2018 and prevents “loutish travelers” from visiting the city’s parks. Given that placement on the travel blacklist is not only limited to tourist behavior—someone could find themselves on it for missing court fees or payments—the response is certainly mixed. Right now, those on the list would be barred from using some or any air or train travel for up to 12 months.