The robbing of a group of Chinese tourists in Rome, Italy last Sunday has once again raised concerns in China on the safety of travel in Europe.
A group comprising 16 tourists and a travel guide from Shanghai had all their luggage, including passports, stolen on a bus when they were out visiting sites in Rome on Sunday, the Shanghai Morning Post reported. The group had sought help from the Chinese embassy in Rome on Monday.
The report was posted on Sina Weibo and reposted by many other media, and was viewed for more than 250,000 times as of the press time.
Many reports noted that it is a common occurrence that Chinese tourists are robbed or their goods stolen while traveling in Europe.
The China National Tourism Administration has warned Chinese tourists who plan to travel to European countries to "stay cautious and look after their personal belongings as Chinese tourists are frequent victims of banditry and pilferage."
"In recent years, Chinese tourists, both individuals and groups, in Europe have encountered more and more pilferage and robbery," Wang Jianmin, an expert from the Tourism Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Science, told Global Times.
The main reason why Chinese people are targeted is because they are spending a lot abroad and most tourists prefer to use cash instead of credit cards or other payment methods, Wang said.
Wang also noted that travel groups from Western countries were rarely targeted and most of the victims are from Asian countries including China, Japan and South Korea.
"Chinese tourists in Europe need to be more cautious and should use credit cards instead of large amount of cash," Wang added.
According to statistics from Ctrip, an online travel agency, trips to Europe accounted for 10 percent of the overall overseas trips while more than 40 percent of the people buying insurance for robbery were destined to Europe.