The Unsightly Mandarin

Good news, my fellow Americans!  As global tourism continues to grow, the “ugly American” is being replaced by new, just as negative stereotypes:

“Not that the Chinese have a monopoly on grossly offensive behaviour. Last August, residents came out in spontaneous protest in Barcelona after three Italian tourists wandered naked through the La Barceloneta district. Last month, a British woman was arrested in Malaysia for posing naked on top of a sacred mountain. This month, it was the turn of a Bulgarian footballer on holiday in Rome, who was fined for gouging his initials into the fabric of the Colosseum.

Such incidents are extreme. But they focus attention on whether tourism on the scale that the world is now experiencing is the axiomatic benefit it has traditionally been depicted to be. Does it, in fact, broaden the mind, erode people’s belief in national stereotypes and introduce them to other ways of thinking? It is hard to make that case for much of the tourism to be found in Magaluf, Phuket or Cancún.”

So much of being a “good” tourist is simply acting like an adult.  And the inability of so many people to act their age extends beyond all national borders.

And anecdotally, having traveled through a bit of Asia, mainland Chinese indeed have the worst reputation for bad tourist behavior.  But it’s hard, if not impossible, to say no to people bringing economic activity to your country.

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