‘Post-apocalyptic’: Bad tourist reviews hurt Chinatown businesses
It seems businesses in Vancouver’s Chinatown just can’t take a break.
Recently, Daily Hive discovered the reviews tourists left about the nearby community of Gastown and they weren’t pretty.
Well, Chinatown’s reviews are just as pointed, and local businesses say they are the first victims of bad publicity.
If you visit websites like Yelp and Tripadvisor, tourists leave unflattering reviews about the historic district.
Descriptions like “dangerous” and “disgusting” have become common terms used to describe the area.
Of the 908 reviews left on Tripadvisor, 299 rated Chinatown as awful, 195 as poor, 186 as average, 151 as very good, and only 77 as excellent.
One visitor wrote that the visit was “one of the most traumatic experiences I have ever had in my entire life”.
After following Lonely Planet’s advice for visiting Vancouver’s Chinatown, Tripadvisor reviewer Greta wrote, “Thousands of homeless crowded into filthy tents, many of them smoking crack or taking heroin, desperate people looking for one more drowsiness, naked people walking around. I felt like I was going through hell and I will never be able to erase those images from my mind.
— Csilla Fel (@CsillaFel) August 10, 2022
Jordan Eng, president of the Chinatown Business Improvement Association, told Daily Hive the criticism was not unexpected.
“Chinatown has long sounded the alarm bells and received only lip service from politicians. Our neighborhood has suffered the spillover and collateral damage of what is happening on Hastings Street – social disorder, graffiti, anti-Asian defacement of cultural institutions,” he said.
The BIA has heard more and more from local business owners talking about the difficulties of staying afloat financially, “especially with the dramatic coverage of homeless encampments, lawlessness and lack of respect for the authority”.
He says local businesses are doing their best in a bad situation. But he adds that sounding the alarm in recent coverage of the DTES encampment is only turning away visitors during what is expected to be the busiest time of year.
“As a neighboring community, we have compassion for what is happening, but we need to send the message that the system that enabled this crisis is broken,” Eng said.
What used to be once or twice a month, bad reviews are now posted almost daily. Another tourist warned visitors to stay away from the area after comparing it to “post-apocalyptic scenes”.
“We have a concentration of people with mental health and addiction issues, and the taxpayer-funded government has institutionalized this neighborhood with support services and funding advocates that perpetuate the status quo,” Eng said. .
But not everything is negative. A tourist recently praised the area, saying he had been living in an Airbnb in Chinatown for three weeks, and wrote that it had some of the best restaurants in town and was great to visit.
“Volunteers go out every day to clean the streets. Obviously, there [are] lots of people living on the street, avoid them if it makes you feel uncomfortable. They will leave you alone and there is plenty of security around. There is so much history here to explore and experience,” they wrote.
With files from Amir Ali