The quote reflects a sentiment widely echoed in destinations which get more than their fair share of tourists and tourism dollars.
The point here is not to pile on tourists or tourism, but to list the reasons why many locals end up feeling contempt or hatred for tourists.
NYC tourist sidewalk
1. Alley Rage:- Earlier this month, some wag in New York painted up a divider on a sidewalk, instructing pedestrians that one side was for New Yorkers and the other side for Tourists.
It was quickly wiped off, but not before Mark Armstrong (Director of Content for Bundle.com) took a picture of the segregated sidewalk and generated enough buzz to attract Mayor Bloomberg’s attention.
In Venice, Italy it’s called Alley Rage. Massimo Cacciari, the Mayor of Venice, has even talked about an ‘entrance tax’ for the over 50,000 daily visitors.
If you have locals feeling aggrieved about tourists, start by educating locals about the need to be polite. Spain last year organized ‘friendliness seminars’ to teach grumpy Spaniards to smile and be nice to tourists.
2. Quality of Life:- The 2010 Mercer Quality of Living survey of 221 cities showed Honolulu as the second most pollution-free city in the world, with little traffic congestion and plenty of clean water and fresh air.
One of the main tenets of responsible tourism is not to harm the environment. But with the economy heavily dependent on planeloads of tourists, concerns about the quality of life of locals in the Hawaiian Islands is not very high up on the list of priorities.
That leaves small communities to defend their way of life on their own. The Hawaii Superferry, for example, was a spectacular failure largely due to heavy opposition from locals and environmental groups.
Note to Hawaii and similar utopias – Come up with some sort of long-term sustainable tourism plan which doesn’t pit locals against tourists.
3. Urban/Rural Divide:- In many states, one city sucks up all the tourist dollars while the rest of the state is left trying to deal with the fallout.
Millions of tourists make their way through Central Florida every year without spending a dime on the way to the theme parks in Orlando, where they then shell out thousands of dollars.
Tourists visiting NYC spend heavily, and then visit Buffalo and Niagara Falls for cheap day-trips. Nevada has the same problem with Las Vegas and Reno.
The state governments, tourism bureaus and county officials here need to come up with an action plan to promote more destinations and develop facilities to entice visitors to stay overnight, instead of passing through.
Forks, WA twilight tourists
4. Culture Shock:- Sometimes a destination gets unwillingly thrust into the limelight. Like Forks, WA which is now famous as the setting of the Twilight books and movies. Twilight author Stephenie Meyer chose it specifically because of the miserable weather.
Not exactly a tourist magnet then, and the kind of people who enjoy living in Forks won’t be the kind who enjoy twilight parties with drunk vampires and a carnival atmosphere out on the street.
No big surprise that they hate the tourist groups, the entrepreneurs and tourist service providers who have moved in to cash in on the Twilight boom.
This is the same as the Dutch cannabis coffee-shops or the Indian slum tours made famous by Slumdog Millionaire. The locals want to be left alone, but they’re too famous an oddity to hide from curious tourists who come to gawk and take photos.
In such cases, tourism bureaus should issue brochures and train tour guides to help tourists understand the difference between cultural immersion and invasion of privacy.
Photo credits (from top) – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5