A few years back there was a popular movie called "The Accidental Tourist." I don’t remember the plot, but I remember thinking it was dreadful. In China today, there seems to be a new phenomenon–the superflous tourist. I spotted this term in a CRI (China Radio International) piece about how the Forbidden City (also known as the Palace Museum) will adopt a system of electronically keeping track of the numbers of tickets being sold in order to monitor and control the number of visitors actually in the museum at one time. When a certain number are determined to still be in the palace, ticket sales will be temporarily halted. Here’s the money quote from the article:
In recent years, the number of daily visitors to the Palace Museum has averaged 50,000 during "golden weeks," the week-long national holidays observed three times a year in China. Superfluous tourists have caused damage to cultural relics in the museum.
Superfluous tourists? What in the world is a superfluous tourist? Webster’s New Millenium Dictionary defines superfluous as "un-necessary and un-called for." (from dictionary.com). Are there some tourists who are necessary and called for and others who aren’t? And how do they decide? NO TICKET FOR YOU! YOU’RE SUPERFLUOUS! And how are they so sure it’s just the superfluous tourists who are destroying the cultural relics?
The last time I was at the Forbidden City I felt like a superfluous tourist. The President of Algeria and his entourage (numerous Black Audi’s) entered just ahead of me, surrounded by a police cordon. When he was in a courtyard, all of us superfluous tourists had to stand around and wait until he was done and had moved onto the next courtyard. Then the police cordon fell back and we rushed in to gawk at the ancient buildings now completely covered in tarp and being renovated. We never actually saw a building, so maybe it was the tour that was superfluous.
So there you have it….too many superfluous tourists at the Forbidden City. Which reminds me, what’s the opposite of superfluous?