If you are thinking about visiting China to explore its diverse landscapes and experience its rich culture, you are not alone. The most populous country is also the third most popular destination for tourists with over 55 million visitors each year. With the Great Wall and Forbidden City drawing more and more people, China’s tourism boom is expected to accelerate making it the largest tourist country by 2020.
There are a few things travelers should take into consideration when traveling to foreign countries such as tourism season. The peak tourist time in China is late spring and early autumn as the climate tends to be mild and dry. Those planning their trips at these times should make reservations in advance and budget accordingly as traveling expenses tend to be higher and hotels book up fast. Tourist attractions are also more crowded so be prepared for longer waits.
Knowing the climate for where you are traveling helps when deciding what to pack. However if you are packing more than your standard travel gear, like the subjects of Locked-Up Abroad: My Dad the Smuggler, then you may want to look into the drug laws. Drug trafficking is not a new issue for China with crystal methamphetamine being one of the most commonly confiscated drugs. Its coastal cities and proximity to the Golden Triangle make it an attractive path for individuals smuggling narcotics. Lockie and Scott were most likely not alone when they were carrying 20 kilos of hash through customs. In fact Chinese officials have found that drug traffickers are utilizing women, the elderly and children to transport narcotics in smaller batches. This prevents substantial loss of their shipment if they happen to get busted. In the end Lockie and Scott’s decision to divide their marijuana between each other ended up being a wise one.
Drug trafficking in China is not taken lightly. Individuals convicted of the crime can face heavy fines, lengthy prison sentences and in some cases capital punishment. On June 26, 2010 a day known as “International Anti-Drug Day” sixteen people were executed for various degrees of drug related crimes including trafficking. Though guards threatened Lockie with death, he was ultimately sentenced to 15 years in prison. His son Scott’s fortune was a little better as he was able to make it through customs in Hong Kong and Japan with 10 kilos of hash. However, if the drugs had been discovered he would have faced a similar sentencing as Japan also enforces a zero tolerance approach to drug activity. Even possessing small amounts of marijuana can result in five years in prison.
The illegal drug trade in China has been influenced by many things over the years. When the country opened its self to tourism and trading with other countries in the 1980s it also opened its borders to illicit drugs. Unfortunately just as more tourists plan their vacations to see the Great Wall, more drug smugglers like Lockie are planning their route through the country and enabling the growing drug problem in China.
Don’t miss Locked Up Abroad: My Dad the Smuggler, July 2 at 10p et/pt