The Brandenburg Gate

World’s Worst Tourists: Which Nationality Causes the Most Trouble Abroad?

Who are the worst tourists? Usually, they’re the ones who have never had to adapt to a new culture before. Egotourism is becoming more and more of a concern. However some nationalities have tendency of putting themselves out there for all to see. Bad behaviour by foreigners is usually more evident: being a visible minority in another country will put you in the spotlight when you misbehave. But who are the worst?

Please note that this article was written and published in December of 2015.

Surveys, specific events relayed by the media or personal experiences can make up a pretty good idea of who are the worst tourists on Earth.

Please note that I understand very well the difference between the generalisations of a nationality and the behaviour of individuals. Keep the hate mail coming…

Are your compatriots part of the list? Who are the ones you’ve noticed the most?

– Worst of the worst? Chinese Tourists

This one is an easy one. To their defense, Chinese tourists are new at this, and so having to adapt to certain social customs is not something they’ve ever had to do. How new is tourism for the Chinese? In 6 years (2013-2019), Chinese tourism to the USA is expected to rise by 172%. They are now the #1 spenders on tourism, after the Americans and Germans.

Surveys say that Chinese tourists have strong behavioural problems. Spitting, public defecating, and not respecting traffic laws are amongst the usual complaints.

The events that mark the imagination and that have been relayed by the media are quite shocking.

A young boy defecated on his plane seat, encouraged by his parents.
– A female plane passenger scalded a flight attendant with boiling soup because she wasn’t sitting with her friends
– In Taiwan, 500 leaves of 30 plants in a botanical garden have some sort of “I was here” carved by mainland Chinese tourists
– In Egypt, a boy defaced a 3500 year old temple
– A warning sign written in Mandarin asks Chinese tourists to not take a dump on the lawn at the Louvre, in Paris
– In Hong Kong, demonstrations against Mainland Chinese tourists and their lack of manners have turned violent in the past

There are dozens more examples. In my personal experience, I have witnessed groups of Chinese tourists violently shoving people out of their way to get inside a train in Tokyo. Oh, and queue jumping seems to be a national sport! Even their government had to issue warnings about their behaviour abroad. The Chinese government is now tracking the behaviour of their nationals. This isn’t exactly the best way to be liked…

– Worst Tourists: Americans, close second

While Chinese tourists do well to make sure they’re noticed, the Americans have a certain claim to fame on their own. They’re the worst tourists… according to themselves!

There are a couple of things that Americans are known for. Speaking loudly is one. Expecting everyone to understand English is another one. Speaking loudly to someone who doesn’t understand English and expecting that person to understand better because they’re yelling is one of the worst.

But these are general behaviours. What about specific situations?

– Two sisters were arrested in Cambodia and deported after taking nude selfies on the sacred grounds of Angkor
– Some Americans thought it would be a good idea to carve their names in the stones of the Coliseum in Rome. And take a selfie, of course
– Others thought they were super brilliant when they stole relics from Pompeii

My personal experience? A young American man having a beer with some fellow tourists in Vietnam went on a loud rant against communism (in a very strict communist country), but also against every single European country and even at Canada for “providing for the scum of the Earth”, ie. the poor, and “involving the government in health care”!

– Worst Tourists: Russians and vodka

The issues with Russians all stem from their relationship with alcohol. They tend to drink a lot and refuse to respect the rules.

Russians can have shocking behaviours. That’s the reason why an Italian hotel has an etiquette guide for Russians.

This drunk man got severely beaten on a flight from Hong Kong for harassing women on a plane.

And complaints about their behaviour are wide and varied.

That being said, Russians seem to believe they are the victims of a worldwide conspiracy against them.

My personal experience: one morning, in a plane going from Prague to Belgrade, a huge Russian man dressed in a track suit and sporting large jewelry, travelling with two women, drank vodka shots of a bottle they brought on board, stood up during takeoff to reach in the overhead bin and refused to put his seatbelt on. The man also insisted on speaking Russian to the Czech attendant, which irritated her a great deal.

– Worst Tourists: English & Irish

Bundling the English and the Irish together might be the worst thing to do according to the English and the Irish, but their behaviour abroad is oddly similar. Binge drinking, sex in public and constant bravado are the usual suspects. Watch this video, read this column or read one of the most disgusting articles ever written to convince yourself…

My personal experience? In Laos, the first night of my arrival at a hostel, an Irish girl brought back another tourist to the dorm and had sex in the middle of 9 other people trying to sleep. The night following the incident, once again in the middle of the night, completely drunk, she entered the dorm and screamed on top of her lungs at her friend who was in the dorm next door to bring her earplugs. I’d had enough of her antics and screamed back at her, saying that we’re trying to sleep. From that point on, she acted as if she had been wronged. Oh well!

– Worst Tourists: The smug French

“Oh, in France, things are much better…” Have you ever heard this sentence? The smug French have been voted the worst tourists on Earth on Expedia. That being said, claiming that they are “penny-pinching, rude and terrible at languages” is nothing compared to the behaviours cited above.

My personal experience isn’t about tourism but rather immigration, as the French are thousands upon thousands each year to emigrate towards Montreal, my hometown. And the debate rages on: are they victim of discrimination? Or do the French who emigrate to Canada do exactly what they blame immigrants in France of doing?

– Worst Tourists: Canadians? Really?

For some reason, that same survey claimed that Canadians are the second-best tourists on the planet. The caricatural ultra-polite Canadian with a northern Ontario accent probably has a way to mark the minds.

But the crown of the worst tourist behaviour of all time probably goes to this Canadian guy who, in Berlin, did the Heil-Hitler pose while his girlfriend took a picture…