A travel agency was charged with cheating in the village of Xuexiang, a booming winter tourist resort in China's northeastern province of Heilongjiang.
"We spent nine months sharpening the knife and the rest of a year slaughtering sheep," said a local tour guide, using this metaphor to argue that it's reasonable to overcharge tourists because the village's tourist industry can operate for only three months each year.
In a video circulated online last weekend, the tour guide is seen pressurizing a group of tourists into buying a ticket package priced at 1,680 yuan (U.S.1) on a bus to the village. She is heard to say: "We won't give you snowboard clothes if you don't buy the package. It's freezing cold, so you'll suffer if you don't buy."
According to the tour guide, the ticket package covered all the local entertainment facilities, which would cost 2,600 yuan (4 dollars) if bought separately. However, most of the tourists who bought it felt cheated.
"It doesn't worth it. I want to leave now. I will never come here again," said one tourist.
In response to the video, a member of the village administration explained: "it is only some travel agencies that have cheated tourists, and they have no relationship to the village. We hope the tourism authorities will punish them and create a pleasant tourism environment in Xuexiang."
On Monday, the China National Tourism Administration urged Heilongjiang Provincial Tourism Development Committee to investigate the case and penalize the travel agency and the tour guide involved in accordance with the law.
Xuexiang, located at the southern foot of Changbai Mountain, is a booming tourist resort famous for its snow-covered landscape. It was recognized as one of the "Top 10 Most Beautiful Villages in China" in 2013.
The village came under public scrutiny after an article charging a guesthouse there with fleecing customers went viral on social media about half a month ago.
Though the guesthouse was fined over 59,000 yuan and added to a blacklist by the local tourism authorities, it seems the village hailed as "China's snow town" has not woken up to the impending loss of its reputation.