Tourism courts provide one-stop solutions for conflict
Liang Jun (middle), a judicial official in Jinggangshan, Jiangxi province, provides tourists with legal assistance at a minibus that serves as a mobile courtroom at several scenic spots. [Photo provided to CHINA DAILY]
Low-level tribunals urge mediation instead of litigation, and provide convenient services for visitors. Cao Yin reports from Jinggangshan, Jiangxi.
Last month, Liang Jun, a judicial official in Jinggangshan, Jiangxi province, received a late-night phone call at home. After hanging up, he quickly drove a minibus bearing the logo "Tourism Court" to a restaurant near a scenic spot.
The call had been made by the restaurant's owner, who wanted to resolve an argument over a trivial matter between two groups of tourists.
To that end, he phoned a 24-hour hotline operated by Liang's "tourism and environment court" and also called the police.
After both parties had calmed down, Liang explained the relevant law and told them how much time and money would be involved if the case were brought to court. The dispute was solved via mediation a short time later.
The Jinggangshan People's Court established Liang's court to work with the public security authorities and tourist trade regulators to solve disputes. The model, established in 2016, has prevented much unnecessary litigation and helped boost tourism in the area.
"The police mainly deal with criminal cases and maintain order at scenic spots, and we mainly cover tourist-related financial disputes," Liang said. "In addition to case hearings, our job involves explaining the law and mediating in conflicts, and I believe we're better suited to it (than police officers)."
In his view, resolving disputes at the early stages to prevent them from becoming bigger issues is good news for local residents because litigation is sometimes a less-helpful solution. Instead, mediation has prevented many potential court cases, especially in light of a boom in "red tourism".
In recent years, China has stepped up efforts to promote red tourism, which revolves around visits to sites with significant revolutionary history.
Statistics from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism show that an average 800 million red tourism trips are made every year, and in March, 33,315 sites and memorials nationwide were designated as "revolutionary".
According to the provincial tourism academy, Jiangxi saw 471 million tourist trips in 2016, with 143 million, or about 30 percent, centered on red tourism in places such as Jinggangshan and nearby Ruijin city, acknowledged centers of early revolutionary activity by the Communist Party of China.
"We felt the rising number of tourists was sure to bring a surge in the number of disputes. So, about three years ago, we started working with other government departments to provide better legal services for visitors," Liang said.