China’s “Golden Week,” a week-long holiday to celebrate the founding of the nation and mid-autumn festival, reportedly mobilized 550 million Chinese to travel domestically. But for the tourists heading to Dujiangyan in the Sichuan province, incorrect navigation information from Alibaba-backed Gaode Maps has turned a scenic mountain tour into “serious” traffic congestion.
“We apologize that we have burdened drivers travelling to Mount Qingcheng during this National day holiday,” Gaode Maps, also known as AutoNavi, said in a statement to local financial news outlet The Paper on Monday.
The tourist spot is located in Dujiangyan, near Chengdu, where the WeChat account “the Dujiangyan scenic area” last Sunday warned tourists not to use Gaode Maps’s services, as its maps “constantly” directed drivers to a closed area, causing “serious traffic jam” and “problems to the management team and tourists.”
Although Gaode Maps said in the statement that it updated the coordinates, some Chinese netizens blasted the firm for its unwillingness to confront the mistakes. Gaode Maps, acquired by e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba in 2014, is currently the most downloaded free iOS navigation app in China, followed by map apps developed by Baidu and Tencent.
The news came three months after Gaode Maps’ new map feature “Family Map” faced privacy backlash for allowing users to track the locations of their family members and informing about their whereabouts for the past 72 hours. It would also send notifications when a family member steps outside a designated area, according to reports from local media outlet Caixin.
Although Gaode Maps reassured users that the feature is not collecting data without their consent and that location sharing can be disabled, many people argued that the app might be misappropriated by domestic abusers or family members aiming to spy on their partners, siblings, parents, or children.