Tourists behaving badly are a threat to global tourism, and the industry is partly to blame

Tourism

Japan’s Nanzoin Temple is famous for its huge statue of a reclining Buddha. Its custodians are less laidback about the hordes of tourists the temple attracts. Signs in 12 languages now warn foreign visitors they may not enter in large groups.

It’s part of anti-tourist sentiment, driven by “the bad manners and abhorrent actions” of some visitors from abroad, reportedly growing all over Japan – and elsewhere in the world.

In Amsterdam, for example, city authorities have put a halt on new hotels and souvenir shops, and are cracking down on private rental platforms.

Tourism brings many benefits to communities around the world. But tourism hotspots are feeling the strain as tourist numbers increase. Locals resent being crowded out of restaurants and parks. They resent paying inflated prices. Most of all they resent tourists behaving badly.

The increasing prevalance of the badly behaved tourist, either in reality or simply as cultural meme, presents a serious issue for the tourism industry. In cities at tourism’s bleeding edge, such as Venice, resentment has boiled over into anti-tourism protests. In Barcelona the cause against foreign visitors has been embraced by left-wing nationalist activists. Their view is expressed in graffiti around Barcelona: “Refugees welcome; tourists go home.”

Unless the tourism industry does something to address underlying aggravations, such sentiments are likely to spread. There’s a danger tourism, instead of building bridges for cross-cultural understanding and friendship, will add to the stereotypical walls that separate people.

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