Tourism…and when the locals hate you

We were at our local pizzeria in Split, talking to our favorite waitress. She always has stories of tourists, most told while laughing. She recounted a story of an Indian family who had walked in, wanting to use the bathroom. The restaurant charges 5 kuna ($1 Canadian, or about $0.75 US) for non-customers wanting to use the facilities. There were 4 of them and they wanted a volume discount to use the toilet. She laughed “it was so crazy, what am I supposed to do?”.

There was a story of a French couple who wanted a discount taken off the bill because they had not finished their meal, tales of groups of Englishmen getting drunk and obnoxious “so loud and I have no idea what they are saying”, and stories of South Koreans who wanted fish “but not the local kind of fish”. Throughout she laughed, there was no malice in her recounting of these stories, just a kind of wonder and amusement at the different people from around the world that come through the restaurant.

In fact, that’s probably the general sentiment in Split. People are still nice to tourists, even those in the tourist trade who are usually the first to get hardened to tourists. That’s probably because 1) huge tourism numbers are recent to Split (locals aren’t fed up yet). 2) tourism in Split (and Croatia) is so seasonal that by the time May comes I think locals actually look forward to tourists arriving. They make life a bit more exciting.

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But that’s changing. Last spring we noticed, for the first time, signs telling tourists not to walk through the old town in beachwear. This post (written by a Split waiter) ranted about tourists, breaking them down by nationalities from best to worse. In nearby Hvar, the mayor has introduced heavy fines for public drinking, inappropriate dress, and disorderly conduct.

We see other signs. Local stores in the old town are relocating to make room for bars. Locals are increasingly having a hard time finding an apartment to rent (apartments are instead being rented to tourists in the summer). The quality of food in restaurants is going down, prices are going up.  A few months ago we had a first: we had been having a few drinks on the Riva with some friends. When the waitress brought the bill she pointedly told me that “the tip is not included” while waiting for me to pay. That might happen in different places around the world but anyone from Split would be shocked to have someone say that to their face. It was the Olive Tree by the way and we haven’t gone back since.

As I say, tourists are still treated well in Split and Croatia in general (except Dubrovnik which sold out to tourism years ago). But will that last?
I started thinking about the above after reading a few articles recently on the effect of tourism on some European cities. This article in The Guardian stuck out above all: I don’t mean to ruin your holiday, but Europe hates tourists – and with good reason.

It’s a negative article that blames all of us who travel for ruining the world. The basic points: 1) that we are all tourists (no matter how we travel) 2) that Airbnb, discount airlines, and mass tourism are ruining cities and 3)  that locals are getting fed up and starting to revolt.
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It’s also one of those posts written to illicit strong reactions and comments. A few samples from the comments section:

Well that’s gratitude for you. Your trying to tell me that after 30 plus years of holidaying across Europe those ungrateful shits didn’t even appreciate me or the hard earned cash that I spent on weak drink, overpriced tourist traps, pseudo foreign “cuisine” and tacky souvenirs. 
Wish I’d voted leave now.

They may well hate tourists, but tourists from wealthier nations play a significant role in their economies. No tourists = wastelands in Spain, Portugal and Greece. Put up and shut up basically.

 

The article stuck in my head and as much as I don’t like the tone of it, I have to agree with most of the contents. Tourism is ruining cities. But it’s not always the sheer volumes – sometimes it’s as much as the quality of tourists. People will shit on me for saying this, but there are a lot of garbage tourists with exactly the same kind of attitudes apparent in the comments above, that is “we are paying and we can do anything we like”.  Many tourists don’t care about local culture or how they conduct themselves or the footprint they leave behind. We see it here in Split. They fly in on the discount airlines, get drunk, walk around town half dressed with beer in hand, they harass the local girls, get in fights, and throw up on the street. We’ve seen it in other places too: drunk French Canadians being condescending to locals in the Dominican Republic, Australians acting like low-class trash in Cambodia, Brits passed out on the street in Prague.

And then people ask why locals hate tourists?

These kind of tourists are not the majority, but even if they’re only 5% or 10% of tourists they leave a bad enough impression on locals.

 

As I was composing this post CNN Travel published their own post entitled “12 destinations travellers might want to avoid in 2018”. It cites above all the tourism backlash from locals. It lists some of the usual places: Barcelona, Venice, Cinque Terra, Santorini as well as a few surprise destinations including the Isle of Skye in Scotland and Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik, I was surprised to hear, could lose its status as a World Heritage Site (awarded by UNESCO) because of overcrowding. The city will respond this year by cutting the number of cruise ships and by setting a daily quota on the number of tourists that can walk its walls.

Lisbon: We spent a month there a couple of years ago and the above basically sums it up. Urgg. Since then we’ve been very careful where we go in the summer.

 

So what to do?

As a tourist

– If you have to visit the more popular places, why not do it in spring and autumn and not summer?
– In the summer, go to less touristy European destinations. How about the Baltics, Poland, the Eastern half of the Czech Republic, or Ukraine? How about most of the Balkans (except Croatia)?
– Go outside Europe! Avoiding Europe in the summer…and other places to go instead.

What Governments should do

– A few years ago the Chinese were getting such a bad reputation as travellers that the Chinese government issued a Guidebook for Civilized Tourism. I think other governments should follow that example – hand them out to people on those budget flights, educate them on the customs and etiquette of a country, warn them of possible fines resulting from bad behaviour.
– Have more tourism police and fine bad behavior. I think Hvar has the right idea. But it has to be enforced to set an example.
– Stop promoting events that bring in the kinds of tourism you don’t want. Locals complain of some of the trashy tourists that come to Split but the city hosts and promotes the famous Ultra festival in the summer which brings in young people who come with only one goal – to party. Spain does the same kind of thing. If you don’t want trashy tourists don’t promote trashy events. 

 

Ok, your thoughts!

 
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Comments

  1. Split and Hvar great in Spring, nightmare in summer.
    Macedonia needs tourists and is still darn cheap. Ohrid is fab in spring, summer and autumn!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Totally agree with all you say. Skopje was one of the cheapest places we’ve been to and food fantastic, people friendly…great value.

  2. You hit the nail on the head Frank with your last remark, cities need to stop promoting trashy venues if they don’t want a herd of trashy tourist. I really feel for the locals and I overkill on dressing appropriate. Showing respect goes a long way, no matter where you’re at. I guess locals get their revenge by inflating prices. I was surprised to see Isle of Skye on CNN’s list, I’ll be there in off season thankfully. My boyfriend has a place in Gozo and with the Netflix show The Crown, I told him to expect Malta to get more tourist, since it was mentioned on the show. While I like promoting travel, sometimes I wonder if it’d be better to keep quiet.
    Paula recently posted…Visiting Coptic Cairo and The Church That Hid JesusMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Ah, that’s why you are always so elegantly dressed Paula 🙂
      Yes, I didn’t expect the Isle of Skye on that list. I don’t know how busy Malta gets honestly, it’s a place we’d like to see (we’ve been watching The Crown as well).

  3. On one side of the coin, it’s a shame that the always small minority screw things up for everyone else. But it’s also a shame that some of these places (as well as those from the CNN Travel article) are also a victim of their own success. Sadly, this is a problem caused by travellers from all over the economic and travel style spectrum. Budget airlines have made things too easy.

    It was a little disappointing to see that the Isle of Skye was the first mentioned location, in that CNN article. I will be going there, on my round the world bicycle trip. But it’s only a transit of about 35 km. 🙂 Hopefully the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig won’t also be replaced with a bridge by then.

    Another destination, which has been ruined by tourists, is Saint Martin (particularly Maho Beach, for obvious reasons). I’d always dreamed in going there. Hurricanes aside, it’s been ruined by too many tourists.
    Stephen recently posted…Back on the bike for Fight MND!My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Like you, I’v always wanted to see the planes flying overhead on Maho beach (correction: it’s on St.Maarten, on the Dutch side of the island). But I’m not surprised that it’s busy with tourists. Like you, suprised and disappointed by the mention of Isle of Skye. Would love to do what you’re doing with the bike 🙂

  4. Right again Frank! I wholly agree and none of that applies to me/us. I dread having to travel to Germany & Austria this year in June, while I always did in May or Sep. However, that said, there are places where the “hatred” is not justified, such as in Paris, even 30 years ago. Parisians loath American tourists, it is a fact expressed by so many, good or bad behavior. BTW, Dubrovnik was rather pleasant last May. Stay well.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      For sure they’ll be more tourists in June but it’s never as bad as July or August Sara. Hopefully Germany and Austria don’t get too many people? Look forward to hearing about that trip of yours.
      Yes, I don’t know what it is about that American – French thing. Two nationalities that are for the most part unilingual, maybe they just don’t understand each other?
      As busy as Dubrovnik gets I’m surprised it’s on that list. It wasn’t that busy when we were there a few years ago in May. But maybe that’s changed.

  5. The word “tourist” makes me cringe because nowadays it often implies bad behavior. In certain places, the recent development of alternative lodgings ( AirBnB and others ) has already put a strain on the relationship between tourists and “locals” because quiet neighborhoods are not so quiet anymore, rental places are limited and prices go up. Of course a cultural faux-pas is bound to happen now and again but to be ill-mannered and disrespectful while traveling just adds fuel. Mind you, If you are a jerk abroad, you are likely a jerk at home. A tourist should be an ambassador for his/her own country because your hosts will judge your country by your behavior and will treat your compatriots accordingly. Don’t ruin it for others.
    I really feel for locals who get invaded by hordes of tourists. I know I would hate it. I guess it’s a fine line between preserving the quality of life of your area while benefiting from the revenues of the tourist industry. No easy solution but at the very least, travelers should behave. I also agree about cities not promoting trashy events. I’m sure there is worse but even La Tomatina in Spain bothers me.
    Thanks for the interesting read

  6. sadly I have to live with (around) people like that Walmart troll trying to mount a12th-century artifact! At least you get your home back when they leave.

  7. This is a controversial topic. Tourists are hated only by those locals who don’t get a profit from them.
    But I think that bad behavior must be punished by police in any case in any country, whether you are a tourist or a local.
    Victor recently posted…Are You 50+ and an Actor at Heart? Visit the Venetian Carnival!My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Actually I don’t agree with that Victor. I think people in the tourist industry are probably the first ones to hate tourists just because they have to put up with their stupid questions and demands all the time. They might like the money but they resent them, like that waiter who’s post I linked. How many people like their bosses? They might pay you but secretly we all have our opinions about them…

      • I had in view bosses. I doubt in existence of a waiter (in any place of the world, touristic or non) who likes his/her work.

        Does the owner of the appartaments that you rented in Split hate you? Does he really wants tourists ignore Split?

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          Oh, you’re right in that sense Victor. We see our landlord once every 3 months and I prepay him for those 3 months at a rate locals couldn’t afford. He probably does love us 🙂

          I’m talking about the people who deal with tourists on an every day basis: waiters, hotel staff, people at the tourist office…they know their money comes from tourism but (most) eventually get fed up with tourists. Or like taxi drivers, they end up taking advantage of them. My experience is that ordinary locals outside of the tourist industry are friendlier towards tourists than people in tourism, especially when a place has been exposed to tourism for a long time.
          Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Tourism…and when the locals hate youMy Profile

  8. I actually wrote about summer in Malta and the tourists almost 4 years ago. 9 months out of the year, there are tourists because the weather is mild still. Come summer it seems pretty much all almost 3 million people that visit Malta yearly are on the island. Since the only options are bus or taxi and crappy roads, it’s not unusual to finally get on the 5th bus going your way as they are crammed..crammed :-). Music, grumpy old men and women, dirt, stink and lots of petty crime, especially in the party zone which thankfully is contained in one area. All these places depend on the tourist dollars so they just have to suck it up. Like someone said up there, if you’re a jerk at home, you will be a jerk away from home. Ryanair from what l understand, have actually eliminated some routes originating from the U.K recently because these twats are drunk before they even get on the plane, and they stopped serving alcohol on some other routes. It’s only going to get worse.

  9. I agree Frank and with the others. There are a few things which have been going for centuries that are worth the effort, even though you get the few morons (who usually get arrested). For instance, I love the San Fermin Festival and try to do all 9 days of it. There’s so much going on (loads of different events) as well as the party that it’s worth the visit (very expensive too). However, it’s only once per year at the beginning of July.

    Other venues are seriously tourist trashed. Venice is sick of them, but I notice they like the money. Florence is, as one local said, a Vatican money making machine. Madrid is just messy and London the biggest rip off on the planet (I know I live there).

    I like spending time with locals, avoiding tourist traps (unless I didn’t know it was one) and smaller towns. I think that many of us have this one or two places that just “click” and we return, often to friends we’ve made who live there. I hope my spine is well enough this Summer to get back to Pamplona and see my friends again for a couple of months. I was thinking of coming down your way afterwards, but you won’t be there….
    Ted recently posted…The Doors and PortalsMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      I think you’re like us Ted – preferring small cities instead of bigger ones. And I’ll admit I don’t have much interest in most of the bigger cities in Western Europe (having visited most of them in my youth). Lissette however is another case, she’d love to see Paris and London. I guess most people think the same. I also don’t like expensive places where I feel forked over.

      I know very little about San Fermin and Pamplona except for the running of the bulls, which I have absolutely no interest in doing thank you! 🙂 Do you do that Ted?? If so you’re a brave guy. But maybe that explains your spine…

      • The bull run is 3 minutes out of a 20 hour day. There are tons of other events, for 9 days. A Special day for the kids, on top of all the other bits for children. The usual Masses, plus social clubs getting together, Basque events, music (string quartets to heavy metal), dancing, artisan markets, a lot of food (and beer) all with a general socializing. The San Fermin Festival is probably the biggest all round party/festival/venue on the planet.

        Media hype and its usual total misprepresentation of things, have blown the bull run way out of proportion. Exciting, but it was originally a cattle market and you don’t damage the cattle–period. The Bull run was actually invented in England, in the 1100’s, and it was really bad (ran for 700 years before they rightly and justly banned it). Ignorant knee jerkers and animists use the description of the English one to define the Pamplona one, which is an outright lie. You do not ever touch the bulls (you get arrested for that)…they can stomp you though. Problem is too many doing the run (2000+, falling over each other). 30 years ago you’d only get about 100 or so. I’ve never run it, I get enough of dodging bulls on my hikes, thank you very much. The spine was some guy in London, looking left and doing a right-hand u-turn into my motorcycle 30 years ago.

        There are 3 posts on my blog (Basque Country category) about the entire event.

  10. Marti Bridges says:

    Frank, I lived in Zagreb the summer of 2010 and it’s a great place to visit and not on the tourist path at all. I was involved in a fellowship working on environmental chapters for Croatia’s ascension into the EU. I loved Zagreb, though it can be oppressively hot and humid. The World Cup was going on and people walked around with beers in hand. Croats, to be exact. I saw this in many locales, so a bit surprised that Hvar is going bonkers about this. Croats love to party and drink. In 2006 Dubrovnik was still nice, but I never visited it in summer. Always Fall or Spring. The cruise ships were just starting to come back then and there was usually only one a day. A ship with a few thousand people is one ship too many as far as I’m concerned.

    I just came back from spending 3 weeks in December in Prague, actually two, then a circle trip to Nurnburg, Rhotenburg, Salzburg and Cesky Krumlov. We enjoyed all but were amazed at the enormous number of Asian tourists from China, Japan, and Korea. It was a bit overwhelming because culturally they are clueless by and large. I don’t want to stereotype, but many really were the new version of Ugly Americans (yes, I’m American). Between the selfie sticks and the lack of any sense of social space, I wouldn’t go back to Cesky Krumlov ever again. The place was packed. Same with Rhotenburg. Nurnburg and Salzburg were wonderful. In Cesky we were ripped off or rather attempts to rip us off at meals with mystery charges. Also demands for tips, something I never had happen in Prague. Prague is lovely but overcrowded all the time now, no matter the time of year. My daughter was there all Fall on a semester abroad program. She said the best place to visit was Madrid and Lisbon as well as Ghent. And Budapest. I would like to see UNESCO revoke World Heritage status from Dubrovnik as well as Plitvice National Park, another extremely over run place. They should entirely ban smoking cigarettes and give out citations to anyone. It’s totally littered with butts everywhere. Mostly Italians and Spaniards smoking, but Croats smoke alot, too. That’s my two cents worth. I recommend ignoring anyplace that Conde Nast, TripAdvisor or any of the Travel Magazines tell you to go to. If someone does a tour there through Grayline or an group that takes 20 or more people, it will have too many people, typically. Sorry your intention to live in Croatia didn’t pan out. I had the same idea. I love Croats, I love learning and trying to speak the language, and the scenery can’t be beat. But it’s quite expensive now, and Prague is no longer cheap, either. Vidimo se, Marti

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      I’ll be honest Marti – Zagreb doesn’t turn me on much. I’ve been 3 times and it’s a pleasant enough place, and probably good to live. But as a place to visit I’d say a day does it on the way somewhere else…but that’s me. And yes – we were there for a week a few years ago and it was excruciatingly hot (and not Adriatic breezes…).

      You are bang on about the Asian tourists. We see them in droves in Split, most being South Korean who, I’m afraid, are probably the worst Asian tourists (the Chinese have that reputation but I think the Koreans surpass them). Geez, they’re a whole post on their own, but they’re the biggest reason I hate the selfie stick. I think the selfie stick is the whole reason they travel. When we were in Cambodia we had a couple literally shoving Lissette over to take a selfie. No social manners.

      Shame about Cesky Krumlov, we were there in 2014 and it was great. But tourism is changing quickly and I don’t remember Asian tourists at the time (by the way, the Japanese are great. Don’t want to give them a bad name). Yes, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the ‘obligatory” Romantic Road stop. I went 20 years ago and it was genuinely charming, today it must be a German Disneyland. But there are so many beautiful German towns with fewer tourists. We love Germany.

      I know what you say about Prague but the thing about that city is that there is tons to see off the beaten path. The problem with Prague is that ALL the tourists go to the SAME places (and yes, all year long). We were there a month last summer and crossed the Charles Bridge once. It’s one of our favorite cities and there are lots of quirky, interesting things to see where you’ll see few tourists. You might enjoy this post. Budapest is very manageable, not too many tourists and the city is spread out so it never feels crowded. It’s another of our favorites. Lisbon go in the off season, that’s all I can say.

      Smoking in Croatia – totally agree. Can’t sit anywhere without smoke in your face. And you are definitely correct about it not being cheap (Prague quite a bit cheaper and you get better value for your buck. But you don’t have the beautiful Adriatic either 😉 ).

      Thanks for the comments Marti, appreciate the feedback.

  11. Like many have said, some tourists really give us a bad reputation. But it’s unfair when you go to a restaurant or bar, order a meal and or drink politely and they serve you whatever thinking you’re just another tourist…What comes first the chicken or the egg?-:(

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Totally agree Ivana, it sucks and makes you hate a place. I will say this though – the more touristy a place, the higher the chance you’ll be overpaying for something shitty. There’s definitely a correlation and I think it has to do with “they’re tourists and will never eat here again. So what do I care?”.
      Just like going to most restaurants in Old Montreal.

  12. I am from a town in NZ that more than doubles in summer (granted we don’t get anywhere NEAR as many overseas tourists. they are mainly domestic tourists) and we HATED the tourist season when out of towners took over, crowded out the beaches/rivers and left our home littered and dirty. I also lived in China, so was able to see a different side of Chinese tourism as well as see foreigners as tourists in China (and some Western tourists in China are revolting!). The basic truth of the matter is that places like Split (and my hometown) NEED tourism for their economies, and tourists need places to go. So some mutual respect, research and empathy goes a long way!
    My husband and I run sailing holidays in the Dalmatian Islands and we market our holidays as being a way to connect with locals and experience the things that we personally love about Croatia. We encourage our guests to buy local, eat local and even give speaking local a go! We want to help bridge the culture gap that often exists between tourists and locals, a gap that breeds conflict and contention.
    Personally I totally agree with your point that the events a country promotes determines the type of traveller/tourist that they end up getting. Countries need to teach tourists how to behave within their borders, And as an avid tourist myself, I also think the onus is on us to think about the locals when we travel, especially when it comes to things we think of as ‘normal’ which may not be normal in the country we are travelling in!
    There are pro’s and con’s to everything and tourists/tourism is no different.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Great comment Mahina.
      I think every place has a love/hate relationship with tourists – in Montreal they complained about American tourists until the dollar went up to par and the Americans no longer came. Then they complained there were no tourists.
      I’d be curious about Western tourists to China. They themselves don’t have the best reputations, I wonder just how offensive those Western tourists are 🙂
      Feel free to link your site if you have one. Honestly, in the time that we’ve been in Split (which is 3 visits amounting to about 18 months) we haven’t taken any tours except a walking tour of the old town. Most tours seem to be sea tours catering to younger tourists…Some of our readers might be interested in what kind of sailing holidays you offer.
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Tourism…and when the locals hate youMy Profile

      • Our website is http://www.45degreessailing.com and we pride ourselves on quality not quantity 🙂 We noticed that the market seems to be mainly aimed at young party boats (which we avoid where ever possible on our trips!) or bareboat charters. And we wanted to offer the opportunity of a sailing holiday to professionals and families who might not be sailors themselves, who aren’t familiar with Croatia or the Dalmatian islands, so that we can host them, take care of them, help them to feel safe (especially important when kids are on board!) so that guests can relax and enjoy many of the wonderful aspects of the islands and boat life.
        Re: China, Chinese people generally do not know how to travel with others in mind. They are taught a pack mentality at home in China, do not even look after their own home environments most of the time (I have been some places where they do, and that is still the exception rather than the rule) so they simply travel internationally exactly as they would travel domestically. This is slowly changing, and having lived there I have far more understanding and patience for Chinese tourists that I encounter.
        The disdain and disrespect I have seen some Western tourists show in China (and in Croatia and other countries as well!) really shocked me when I first arrived in Nanjing. I was quite embarrassed to be associated with them at times. I have seen revered monuments climbed on, a scene made in a local style restaurant when it was discovered that credit cards were not accepted (which is very common in smaller establishments), Westerners who think that just because they have money that they can order locals around like minions, Chinese customs being called stupid and backwards in the hearing of Chinese who speak fluent English, drunken Westerners harassing women at hotel bars as well as local bars… And I have come to the conclusion that bad behaviour exists in all cultures. Despite what we would like to think, Chinese/Asian tourists are no worse than Western tourists, we simply have different kinds of bad behaviours that we are known for, different backgrounds and different customs. Like I said in my first comment, respect, research and empathy go a long way when travelling, and I attribute our amazing travel experiences with being aware enough to put this into practise. Funnily enough, these attributes have also proved to be very valuable in us settling into Split this winter, and on the boat as we host people from all around the world!
        Tourism is a necessary evil for many places, tourism helps to encourage diversity and I think that we can all benefit from stopping and thinking what kind of tourist/traveller we personally want to be.
        We spend a lot of time at D16 and would love to put a face to the name over a kava 🙂 I’ll be the one accompanied by the Blonde Kiwi!

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          Thanks Mahina, I find your Chinese experience interesting. So I guess Western tourists just was bad in less touristy destinations – I’ve always thought they are worse in mass tourism destinations served by budge airlines but your China experience shows they’re not limited to that. You’d think that people spending thousands of dollars to go somewhere exotic halfway around the world would know better.
          Maybe one day we’ll see you at D16 🙂

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Ps. I went to your site and I know who you are. I played football with Nick a few times 🙂
      Thanks again for your comment.

  13. I think we were lucky in Hvar in not seeing too many crowds or bad behaviour as we went in shoulder season but Split was so crowded that it was hard to see how any tourists could see or enjoy anything let alone how on earth the locals must feel about it. I understand the conflict of emotions as tourism of course brings in job opportunities and helps to grow local economies but if tourists are urinating on streets or walking around wearing next to nothing, it is understandable locals would start to feel a bit aggrieved.
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  14. Local population in Split decreased from around 3-2000 people living in the Diocletian’s palace to less then a 200. Tourist guides still tell fairy-tales on 1700 long continuity of life while actually the place is deserted since ten years ago. There is no privacy in Palace any more, when you open even a window there is at least five cameras to have your cute picture, people enter other people’s apartments “just to see”, browse goods in shops “just to have some fun” and get drunk with pub crawl tours to have “the one night they will never remember” by peeing on the door of people trying to get some rest to go to work next day. I wander what indeed is there to like?

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      I think maybe you’re making it out to be worse than it is Mary (for now!) – but definitely agree with you in high season and I can also see that in the 3 years that we’ve been here that the palace has become more and more packed in summer with less and less of that being local. Probably just a matter of time until it suffers the same fate as Dubrovnik. That would be a real travesty.

  15. Such a fun post to read, Frank! I would love to have coffee with the waitress and listen to more stories and funny experiences. Excellent job!

  16. GoBruins! says:

    Hi Frank, excellent topic to be raising. I read that Guardian article as well. It was interesting but I couldn’t sympathize with the whiners….their local gov’ts, businesses and compatriots are as much to blame for mass tourism impacting their cities as the discount airlines, AirBnB, etc. I suspect this issue is isolated to a few big name tourist sites. I’m sure there are many more places that are clamouring for yet more tourists. After all a substantial part of many countries economies now depend on the mass tourism sector. I believe it’s about 20% in the case of Croatia…..and what are the alternatives for many of these places anyways?

    All the changes you highlighted with the onslaught of mass tourism are just part of transitioning economies. There are always going to be winners and losers. Despite the few whiners, I’m sure there are many more in their cities that benefit by all the tourism activity- both directly such as jobs, livelihoods and indirect like taxes paid…..it’s really up to them to plan and manage it appropriately and not let greed be the driving factor. So locals should be nice to tourists or else they might lose them!

    It seems to me that the complaints about AirBnB being a source of low apartment vacancies is misplaced. If that’s true, there is something seriously wrong with the local housing situation. I remember hearing about this issue in Vancouver as well. Most of the people complaining about lack of rental space can’t afford the $1500/mo rental rates anyways and it’s frequently these apartments that are used for AirBnB places. AirBnB shouldn’t be blamed for lack of low cost rentals, that’s an issue for local Gov’ts and property developers to address.

    Croatians renting out their places along the coast is not new. Local people have been renting out suites in their houses and entire apmts for years to tourists from Germany and E. Europe. On our trips in 2007 and 2008 we used an excellent online Croatian apmt search website for our places (there were hundreds available)…..and this was pre-AirBnB days. I suspect this was the case in many other Euro cities (like Barcelona) that are complaining about AirBnB, etc. They just have a brand name to target now, like people complaining about Uber and Starbucks everywhere!

    While I think some of the negative impacts of mass tourism can be blamed on service providers like discount airlines, they are only responding to demand and competition. The issue is really more the result of a push-pull dynamic going on at many of the high profile tourist sites. The Push includes: more people having more disposable income, more free time available, aging populations and the fact that mass tourism is attractive because it’s a fairly “lazy” activity, requiring little effort (after all it’s so difficult to spend hours laying on a beach or sitting on a tour bus). The Pull comes from the gov’ts, businesses (like hotels, discount airlines) and heavy marketing to promote their tourist “sites”, the building of airports or cruise ship berths, the introduction of disneyland gimmicks like ziplines, segways, etc, etc. to provide instant gratification and cheap thrills to tourists.

    The other day I was talking with a Ukrainian woman here in Vientiane who was on a visa run from Thailand. She was completely mystified why there were so many westerners here (I presume she was unable to take note of all the Korean, Chinese and Thai tourists here as well) when there is nothing to see or do. I mentioned that about 50% of the westerners are likely on a visa run just like her, 25% are probably tourists and another 25% are working with NGOs. I told her that “nothing to do” was actually one of the attractions of Vientiane since you actually get a feeling about a place that functions for its citizens and their needs and interests rather than something contrived for tourists. But from her perspective (and likely many others) the city only had value if there were touristic diversions -even though she was here on a visa run. I told her that Vientiane is a capital city with many administrative, social and economic activities going on and is not simply functioning to provide amusements to tourists. I think most tourists are like her – unwilling or uninterested to learn about the places they visit……just show me the sights!

    Regarding the point of “locals getting fed up and starting to revolt”, I recently heard from some Thai GH owners complaining they don’t like the latest trend with Chinese tourists. Apparently it’s because they are now renting entire small apartment buildings to stay in for a couple weeks rather than going to hotels! A couple years ago while in Kerala I frequently heard locals complaining about Russian tourists for always getting drunk, fighting with each other and trashing hotel rooms……so it’s not always the Brit lads or Aussie blokes! Garbage tourists! You must have read that bit about some moron tourists getting arrested in Cambodia for faking porno sex scenes at some party……weird shit everywhere these days!

    So what to do? I agree with all the points you make regarding tourists. I would add the following: Why not change your modus operandi? Most tourists follow the absolute same playbook – got to tick those boxes! Instead, why not set 2 weeks aside and stay in a small village and take language lessons? I like the above idea of taking a sailing holiday in the Adriatic. I presume there’s a chance to learn how to sail. Why not jump on a bike and follow one of the eurovelo cycle routes village-to-village for a couple weeks, etc. Why not stay in an agroturisme farm and help pick olives or lemons etc…….what, no beach time?

    As for what Governments should do, I agree with your suggestions and would add the following: Gov’ts need to take more responsibility. They need to better plan and manage their tourism sector…..not just allow a free-for-all. I notice some governments are trying to do this, but I’m afraid it’s very difficult, perhaps close to impossible, because of ever greater revenue needs, pressure from businesses, competition from neighbouring countries, the large informal sector operating in many developing countries, corruption and above all…..the greed factor.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      You make great points as always Don. Language lessons, bike tours, and as you mention as Adriatic sailing holiday all great ideas. And yes, governments have to take more responsibility because if the locals are not happy then it’s going to undermine the whole process. We SHOULD have a lot more cultural tourism here in Croatia, in theory bringing in older, more affluent tourists, but this is not the case. Instead Croatia (or more specifically Dalmatia) gets mostly a young beach & party crowd who come 2 months of the year. I said it somewhere before – only the Koreans come here year long. They seem to have realized that there’s much more to Croatia than beaches.

      Your Vientiane example – totally right. As if places were only meant to please tourists.

      One thing I don’t agree with you about is Airbnb. We’ve seen it’s effects in Lisbon and here in Split (and are directly affected in Split where finding someone to rent you a year long apartment is almost impossible). It’s taken away places for locals to rent and created a fake economy driven by tourism. Like Dubrovnik, locals are increasingly being forced to live far outside tourist centers while places in the center become tourist ghettos. Again, it’s up to governments to adjust just like they have in places like Vancouver, New York and San Francisco (in these New York and Vancouver you can’t legally rent for less than 30 days – although how and if that’s regulated is beyond me…)
      You’re right, renting out apartments in not new, but Airbnb has made it possible to the masses – just as budget airlines has made travelling available to the masses. I see young bums counting their lipas on Bacvice beach and wonder how kids that age travel (when I was that age I’d be working 2 summer jobs). Well, $50 will get them here from London on Easyjet.

      But you’re right, what’s the alternative for places like Croatia? Economy sucks and government has no plan, no foresight. Tourism is fickle and can change on a dime – in fact one of the reasons we’re getting more tourists here these days is because of what’s going on in Turkey. A Croatian friend said it – it only takes a terrorist attack here in Croatia but change everything. To put all your eggs in one basket isn’t forward thinking…

      Push and Pull – totally agree. With locals stuck in between and most not getting any trickle down, instead just having their lives inconvenienced by tourism. What to do? I think it’s up to government to regulate and fine. Your example on Cambodia (which I was just reading about yesterday) is spot on. They were having a big party somewhere simulating sex acts. What piles of shit. I hope they do go to jail, even if only for a couple of weeks, just to set an example. That’s what it takes, just like Hvar fining someone 700 Euro for public drinking. Maybe it’ll keep the scum away, which in the end benefits everyone because they’re the ones who give tourism a bad name.

      Thanks again for the thoughtful comment Don.

  17. Tourism here in the South of England can be unbearable during the high season, but I think we all just have to put up with it and be nice to the tourists. Our local economy needs it. In the winter the town can be almost too quiet and for sure local restaurants open at a loss some nights. I can understand why locals do not want mass tourism on their doorstep, particularly the bad behaved type of tourist ….maybe these people should be heavily fined if they misbehave, damage property etc. There are no easy answers, but for sure governments can do a lot more to improve this situation.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Surprisingly, It’s the same story here Gilda – despite being the 2nd largest city in Croatia Split become a bit of a ghost town in winter and most restaurants are closed. Croatia’s rarely go out to eat. We knew it would be quieter but the extent of it has been almost shocking.
      Thanks for the feedback.

  18. its such a catch 22 situation isnt it? Tourism brings in the money, but also the bogans! Travelling sensitively is something people should always do, but sometimes we forget where we are. You know my thoughts on Dubrovnik. But the attitude there is because of years and years of too many tourists for a smallish place. who can blame the locals for wanting tourists out?
    Andrew Boland recently posted…Iguazu Falls – Above and BelowMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Yes, agree it’s a tough balancing act Andy. I think it can be done with appropriate policies by governments – but in most cases they don’t even listen to their own citizens and work out of pure self interest with little planning. Having lived in Croatia a year I could list a whole bunch of things that they do wrong. But does anyone really care? I don’t think so…
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Tourism…and when the locals hate youMy Profile

  19. Mass tourism brings rudeness and a sense of entitlement. Seen it many times and usually avoid the famous places now. And often people are rude over minor things like the shower hot water is only warm yet they are in a $20 a night 1 star room or they want a discount on a $8 item. I’ve to appreciate that a good dog is better than many humans.

  20. Love those stories of tourists by your waitress! She could probably write a book on all the funny requests :-). Unfortunately the fact is that as the world population increases exponentially and more people are able to travel financially (the rise of the middle class in Russia, India, etc.), popular destinations are being over-run with tourists. We hate it too. But of course, we’re two of those tourists, hopefully the kind that are welcome :-). Savvy tourists understand that if you want to avoid rubbing shoulders with other tourists you have to travel in off (or at least shoulder) season; we have friends traveling to Puglia (Italy) this month. Or go to places which limit tourists by high prices and seek only high-end tourism (e.g., French Polynesia).

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Our waitress Angela is the sweetest, funniest girl and is full of stories. We love talking to her. And it’s always interesting hearing the perspective of locals.
      You are very right about the causes for the rise in tourism. We’re seeing a whole new brand of tourism that we never used to see.
      Thanks for the great feedback Janice.

  21. Hey Frank I read your whole post and I totally agree with your opinion.But I think not all the locals are same at all. Last year I went to India and they behaved very well. They were very cooperative.
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    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks John – sure, totally depends on the place and on the amount (and quality) of tourism they get.I don’t think India receives the same kind of mass tourism as some parts of Europe so the local attitude totally different.

  22. Hi Frank!

    This is an interesting entry. Most blogs I read are about these amazing experiences, spots and whatnot but we often forget other “important” things such as respect and responsibility.

    In most cases, travelers often forget that they are in a different country and that they need to abide by the rules. Perhaps most of us get excited and our emotions get the best of us.

  23. Right on, Frank. The trashy tourists… as Americans ourselves, we can spot the “ugly” American a mile away and we will avoid them at all costs. It’s our personal philosophy to “be nice” as much as we can and try to show the world that not all Americans are asshats, but then we embrace local customs, history, people, etc., things the ugly American tourist does not appreciate. And, we also keep our travel wardrobe very low key, something I think many tourists need to consider.

    But aside from that. This past summer we traveled throughout Europe for 3 months in the heat of the summer. It’s not a time of year we would normally take on such a trek but we were working with Eurail and that’s when we needed to go, so we did, and it worked. Funny thing, you may remember we had plans to travel to Split, but a friend of ours was in Split in June and she sent word that we should avoid Split in the summer, so we rerouted ourselves. We were also told to stay out of Italy in the summer and we heeded that warning as well. The cities we did visit were busy, but we weren’t overwhelmed by crowds, but the stifling heat in Budapest kicked my butt six ways to Sunday.

    The only city where we came across the “tourists go away” mentality was in Coimbra, Portugal. The city is home to a huge university and apparently the locals/students are having a difficult time finding accommodations and much of that is due to AirBnB, or at least that was the sentiment painted on the walls of the city.

    It’s a conundrum, isn’t it? Countries need to the boost to their economy through tourism, but at what cost?
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    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Patti. Agree with everything you say.
      If we had first visited Split in summer we would never have made it our base. We would have hated it. Just the same way we hated Lisbon in mid summer. And we lived through 2 months of mid-summer heat in Budapest a few years ago so I know exactly what you went through 🙂

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