For some nations, tourism is their main source of income. Hence, they have to put up with their antics, whether they love or secretly loathe them.
We are all familiar with the perception of the loud, boorish American or the badly dressed Brit (at least, according to the French). But even these distasteful generalizations are paling in comparison to the new winners of “Most annoying tourists ever”.
While they have a lot of money to spend (Chinese tourists spent $123 billion in 2013), they are quickly gaining global attention for really crass behavior. In 2014, one Thai AirAsia flight had three elements you would normally expect only on a big budget action movie. An attack with scalding water, a bomb threat and a suicide attempt; all occurred on one flight, perpetuated by two Chinese passengers.
Their antics are not restricted to planes. On the ground, Chinese tourists have been accused (across multiple countries), of spitting in public, skipping queues, even defecating on an airport floor!
Addressing this issue becomes tricky for one reason. It is hard to tell whether this is general behavior for the nation as a whole or if due to their sheer volume, some countries simply attract rude Chinese tourists. Remember they have a population of 1.3 billion people and they have become the biggest travellers on the planet! Travel statistics say nearly one in ten travelers today, are Chinese.
Regardless of the reason, the uncouth behavior led the Chinese National Tourism Administration to publish an etiquette guidebook, in 2013. With little change in their behaviour, the board made a resolution, in 2015 to naming and shaming badly behaved citizens. It’s so bad that certain stores and even countries are contemplating blacklisting Chinese visitors.
Every country has their share of tourists behaving crassly. Russian-speaking tourists were in the news for making a 10-minute sexually explicit video, at the 4, 500 year-old Pyramids of Giza. Visitors to the annual Winter Solstice festival at Stonehenge, left graffiti, litter and chipped away pieces of the stones.
Here’s a list of tourists with appalling behavior across the world.
10. No PDA
In many parts of the world, locking lips and PDA isn’t seen as anything new. But Conor McRedmond and Rebecca Blake were quick to find out that this behavior doesn’t fly in Dubai. Putting on an amorous display in the back seat of a taxi after a 10-hour drink fest, the driver was so shocked that he drove them straight to the local jail.
The strict Islamic court of the land found them guilty of having drunken public sex, and handed them a three year sentence. After a lengthy legal battle, they served only three months behind bars.
9. Light Fingered Tourist
During a Japan Day celebration at the Kaetsu Educational and Cultural Centre in Cambridge, two priceless Japanese artefacts suddenly went missing. The wooden plaque and replica textbook were on loan from the Peace Memorial Museum in Okinawa.
Who took them? A tourist who claimed they thought they were souvenirs. Thankfully, the items were returned with an apology.
8. Mid Air Turbulence
Maybe it’s something in the air or the alcohol and sleeping pill combo that passengers use to calm jittery nerves. Whatever it is, airlines have recorded many examples of tourists with appalling behavior.
In 2011, a BMI flight from Russia to London was forced to turn around. Too much turbulence? Nope. Engine failure? Nope. A drunken female passenger had stripped off and was giving erotic dances to other passengers, whether they consented or not.
This behavior was repeated by Mathew Pritchad. On a flight from Amsterdam to Reno, as part of this year’s Gumball 3000 rally, Pritchard stripped to a cap and his socks. He then started climbing on seats, on fellow passengers, even peeing on Dolph Lundgren in the process.
7. The Hangover Reenactment
Thank goodness, there were no tigers involved in this drunken escapade. But in 2012, two Welsh tourists and an Australian broke into Australia’s Queensland Sea World, swam with the dolphins, emptied a fire extinguisher in the shark tank, and then kidnapped a fairy penguin named Dirk.
When they sobered up after a few hours and realized their mistake, they released Dirk into a canal. They were apprehended and the tourists were fined $1,000 each. Local boy, James Vasilj, was given probation.
6. Budding Graffiti Artists
Very few countries are tolerant of street art. While they may look stunning on Instagram, tagging ruins the aesthetics of old buildings. Imagine someone ‘tagging’ a 3,500 yr old temple relic in Egypt. A 15 year old schoolboy from China was on a school trip and thought it would be nice to show everyone where he had been by carving the words “Ding Jinhao was here” in Mandarin characters on the ancient relief.
He carved “Ding Jinhao was here”, in Mandarin characters on the ancient relief. He was quickly tracked on social media, forcing his parents to apologize to the people of Egypt.
The trend of defacing attractions seems to be on the rise. In November 2014, a Russian tourist was fined $21, 685 for carving his name into Rome’s Colosseum. Earlier this year, two California women were charged with doing the same thing, and they had a selfie to prove it.
5. Going Mike Tyson on a Statue
On a visit to Easter Island in 2008, Finnish tourist, Marko Kulju infamously broke off an earlobe from one of the giant stone statues . Attacking the 1, 000 yr old statue, the lobe fell to the ground and shattered. For avoiding the gift shop and buying a replica like everyone else, he was fined $18, 715.
The Mayor of Easter Island wasn’t satisfied with a fine as “justice” for damaging the statue. He expressed his feelings in a radio interview, saying “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth: That would be my form of justice.”
4. Stealing from Auschwitz
The fact that thousands died horrible deaths in this place, hasn’t stopped tourists to Auschwitz from stealing stuff. Not content with theft, some go as far as carving “I had a smoke here” on the walls and bunks left at this death camp.
‘Souvenirs’ stolen include barbed wire and spikes from the railway that transported prisoners to their deaths in Nazi Germany’s notorious death camp.
Maybe the most shocking aspect of all this is that the vandalism isn’t attributed to only teenagers, who may not know better.
3. Drunken Dummies
In August 2014, 100 residents of Barcelona decided they were fed up and took to the streets in protest. Of higher taxes? Expensive groceries? Nope. They were fed up with having to put up with drunken tourists. In the last year alone, the country recorded 36.3 million foreign tourists, in the first seven months of the year.
Yet, just the week before, a group of Italian tourists got so drunk that they felt it would be a good idea to parade through the La Barceloneta neighborhood naked. Tourists are also accused of being noisy, public drunkenness and littering. Citizens are so fed up that they are contemplating shutting down all apartments available for rent to tourists.
2. Practicing Stone Surgery
In 2013, Dr. Patrick Broderick, an American emergency surgeon was arrested in Florence Italy. Not for a botched procedure, but for snapping off the finger of a statue of the Virgin Mary which dates from either the 14th or 15th century. In his defense, he claimed he was trying to measure the finger. On apologizing for his mistake, he was released without charge.
This incident eerily echoes one by another American man, the year before who broke a finger off another 600 year old statue.
1. Nude Ninnies
Nudity plays many roles in our lives; it has been used as a form of protest. In 2013, John Brennan stripped at an Oregon airport to protest the TSA search. It has even been used to win a bet; a 19 year old Australian was determined to win a bet that involved him traveling around Europe, naked. He got through 10 cities before being apprehended in Munich, by the police.
But a recent variation of this involves arriving at ancient temples or major tourist attractions and stripping nude to take pictures. This year alone, five people have been arrested at Angor Wat for taking nude photos. Angor Wat is Cambodia’s most sacred temple and has great historical significance for its part in the Khmer Rouge era.
A group of travelers posed naked on a Malaysian mountain in May, they are being blamed for the 6.0-magnitude earthquake that followed about a month later. Locals believe the ‘desecration’ of the mountain angered the local spirits.
For a twist on badly behaved Chinese tourists, a Chinese photographer and a couple of models were recently in the news for posing nude next to the Imperial palace in China’s Forbidden City. Posing in what some have called a ‘profane’ manner, one naked model straddled the head of a hornless dragon at the foot of the steps of the Imperial palace.
Tourists need to remember to have respect for other cultures when they visit. Maybe more countries should take a leaf from China’s book and issue etiquette guides to all travelers.