Riot police were called in to subdue dozens of angry tourists from mainland China who had accused tour guides of taking them to too many shops in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, reports said Wednesday.
About 100 tourists from China’s Hebei province had complained to their tour guides Tuesday that they wanted to see historical sites, not shops, in the tiny territory that Portugal returned to China in 1999, the South China Morning Post reported.
The guides then took the tourists to one of the main beaches in the three-island territory, but did not allow them to retrieve warmer clothing from the bus when the wind picked up, the paper said, citing the tourists.
A scuffle broke out and police were called, but were unable to break up the fight, the paper said.
Riot police called
Riot police, armed with shields and batons, were brought to calm the dispute, but found themselves confronted by dozens of irate tourists.
Police tried to beat back the angry tourists with their batons, local TV showed.
“Some tourists refused to let some of our colleagues go and attempted to use violence,” the paper quoted one officer as saying. Four people were detained for questioning, police told the Post.
The dispute ended about 10 p.m. when government officials were called into to mediate and the tourists agreed to go back to their hotels, it said.
The Macau government’s tourist office issued a statement early Wednesday saying it was aware of the dispute, but considered it to be a one-off situation.
Macau police were not immediately available to comment.
Macau — a formerly sleepy backwater — has become a key tourist hotspot in recent years as several big name U.S. players such as Las Vegas resort owners Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn develop the retail and casino industry. Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal.
Unlike neighboring Hong Kong, Macau has also retained much of its European heritage, including U.N.-declared World Heritage sites and some remaining use of the Portuguese language.
More than 2.4 million people traveled to Macau in October, more than half of whom were from mainland China, according to government figures.