Tourists are not guests. In the article ‘Gentle Gaze‘, I mentioned that finding the right balance between tourists and local communities is challenging. I would like to express my viewpoint clearly: Tourists can sometimes be an extra burden for the local community, and it is advisable for tourists to walk on the side.
Recently, news reports indicated a lot of trouble between locals and tourists. In Barcelona, Fort Carmel in Barcelona was off limits at night after local residents’ anger reached a boiling point due to nightly tourist bacchanalia. In Venezia, which received a UNESCO recommendation for excessive tourism, the local government introduced a tax to combat too many tourists. I visited Barcelona in 2018 and Venezia in 2020, fortunately in winter rather than the summer high season, so I did not feel any tourist pollution. These pollution issues are not limited to major cities; In the small village of Iseltwald in Switzerland, a large number of Korean tourists, far outnumbering the villagers, have flocked to the village, causing problems such as noise, littering and traffic congestion, which has resulted in great inconvenience and annoyance to the villagers in their daily lives. These problems are not solely the fault of tourists but may result from the insensitivity of tourism operators who use large tour ships and buses for their tours.
Anyway, the cities we visit are not theme parks like Disneyland. We should not assume that all the locals will welcome us. This is because the people we are most likely to come into contact with – hotels, restaurants, taxis – are only some of the locals. We may want to relax for a while during our travels, but we should avoid excessive revelry as it’s just another day in the life for the locals. For example, we should not deprive local people of the opportunity to enjoy a meal by gathering information using social media and flocking to restaurants that locals value. I think there are areas where tourists should not step into lightly.
We should respect local culture and customs, remain humble, and be unobtrusive and discreet.