Japan, especially, has had enough of tourists.
If tourists behave badly, should they be kicked out? As flights get cheaper and the world gets more connected, we all learn a little bit more about one another. What some places are learning is that when tourists visit in large groups, they can be a real problem. And some places are fighting back.
Earlier this week, Japan made headlines when The Independent reported foreign tourists were being banned from establishments all over the country due to their large numbers and bad behavior.
What some places are learning is that when tourists visit in large groups, they can be a real problem.
Sasaguri’s Nanzoin Temple, for example, prominently displays signs in 12 languages warning that foreign visitors in large groups may not enter. Kakujo Hayashi, the temple’s chief priest, told The Asahi Shimbun that they had to put up the signs when 20 to 30 buses of cruise passengers flocked to the temple daily and caused incidents that disturbed the priests like blaring loud music or climbing on the temple roofs.
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A bar owner in Kyoto got so fed up with tourists bringing in food from other establishments, ashing on the floor and putting cigarettes out in plates that he began telling groups of more than four foreign tourists that his izakaya pub was at capacity when they showed up to take a load off. Japan’s tourism officials say that over tourism is to blame.
Japan’s Not the Only Country with Tourism Trouble
In 2017, Venice restricted new visitors by restricting access to cruise ships. They also launched a “#EnjoyRespectVenezia” campaign, a set of “12 good rules for the responsible visitor” to remind visitors not to litter, vandalize or swim in the canals of the UNESCO World Heritage Site during their visit. Scotland’s Isle of Skye may restrict visitors after an overly-successful tourism campaign brought so many visitors to see the fairy pools that they choked the island’s narrow roads with camper vans, littered profusely and went to the toilet “in the open.” It’s harder than ever to visit Peru’s Machu Picchu because overtourism nearly drove it to extinction. Today, if you want to visit, you have to book a one-hour time slot and show up on time or you’ll be turned away. No one will be allowed to visit after 5:30 pm.
What You Can Do to Make Sure You’re Not Being a Bother
Because large groups of tourists seem to cause the most trouble, we recommend that you limit the number of people you travel with when you’re headed to a popular tourist destination. Also, take care to navigate carefully when you’re a visitor and last, but certainly not least, consider how the people in the group you travel with…act.
To avoid contributing to overtourism altogether, consider alternatives to popular destinations where you can get a similar experience and avoid the throngs of other tourists (and the damage they cause). Consider heading to the stunning Waimea Canyon in Hawaii instead of the perennially popular Grand Canyon. If you’re headed overseas, consider seductive Tel Aviv which is much less traveled than Barcelona.