- ASX SPI 200 futures little changed at 7,221.00
- Dow Average little changed at 35,307.63
- Aussie down 0.1% to 0.6487 per US$
- U.S. 10-year yield rose 3.8bps to 4.1913%
- Australia 3-year bond yield rose 7.8 bps to 3.90%
- Australia 10-year bond yield rose 8.4 bps to 4.20%
- Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,907.64
- Brent futures down 0.7% to $86.20/bbl
- 11:30: (AU) 2Q Wage Price Index QoQ, est. 0.9%, prior 0.8%
- 11:30: (AU) 2Q Wage Price Index YoY, est. 3.7%, prior 3.7%
- 11:30: (AU) RBA Minutes of Aug. Policy Meeting
Tech stocks had their best day in two weeks, helping US equities edge higher in light trading as traders weighed the prospect of a soft landing for the economy. Treasuries fell.
Treasury yields wavered before ticking higher as high-grade corporate bond sales weighed on prices. The policy sensitive two-year advanced for the fourth day to approach 5%, while the 10-year traded at 4.19%, the highest since November.
Traders are betting interest rates will outpace inflation for years to come while investors sitting on record first-half gains are having to contend with central bankers warning they are in no rush to cut interest rates.
On Tuesday morning last week, Italian police officers confronted a 19-year-old tourist at the Leaning Tower of Pisa — not for taking a criminally cliché photo pretending to prop up the tower, but for carving a heart and initials into the priceless structure.
Following her confession at the police station, the French visitor was reported to the public prosecutor’s office for damaging a piece of Italian national heritage, according to the police report.
It wasn’t the first time this summer that a tourist was caught engraving their initials into a UNESCO World Heritage site. It wasn’t even the second or third. Italian police are investigating two separate cases of tourists defacing the Colosseum in Rome — both of which were caught on video. And in July, a 17-year-old Canadian admitted to scratching his name and initials into an 8th-century temple in Japan’s Nara prefecture.
Then there were the less personalized acts of vandalism, like the tourist who allegedly damaged unique geological landforms in China, or the two who climbed into a fountain in northern Italy and destroyed a $220,000 statue. And don’t forget the tourists who keep messing with wild animals at national parks, attacking flight attendants and getting drunk, naked and violent in Bali.
Given the mounting evidence, this feels like the summer of bad tourists. But without a global database of tourist mischief, there isn’t a clear consensus on whether travelers are actually behaving worse than in summers past.
What is clear, according to academics, psychologists and travel industry professionals, is that tourists are frequently going rogue.
Entitlement on the rise. Kirsty Sedgman — an academic specializing in human behavior and the author of “On Being Unreasonable: Breaking the Rules and Making Things Better” — says there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest “a growing proportion of people are feeling as if they should be able to do whatever they want,” particularly when it comes to travel.
When people have spent a lot of time and money to plan and take a vacation, Sedgman says they’re more likely to believe they’re entitled to experience it how they like — manners, rules and social norms notwithstanding.
“I call it ‘don’t-tell-me-what-to-do-itis,’” she says. “There’s this real sense of ‘You shouldn’t be allowed to tell me what I should be doing.’”
It’s an issue Catherine Heald, chief executive of the Asia-focused luxury tour operator Remote Lands, is also seeing more of, notably with her Japan itineraries. While she says most of her clients are “really nice,” Heald’s been dealing with more of them throwing fits over local customs — like taking shoes off to walk on tatami mats or abiding by restaurant reservation policies — despite multiple briefings ahead of time.
“They love Japanese food, they want to go to Japan, they want to go to the best restaurants, but they don’t want to follow the rules,” Heald says. “And if we don’t want to follow the rules, we shouldn’t go.”
Former flight attendant Shawn Kathleen, who created the popular Instagram account Passenger Shaming, has noticed a similar sentiment in air travel and vehemently believes the situation is worsening.
“[People] think they have the right to fly and the right to sit where they want and the right to put their feet up on your headrest … but they don’t,” Kathleen says. “The cost of your ticket does not entitle you to treat the airplane as if it’s your living room.”
Then again, global trends analyst Daniel Levine argues that there’s nothing new about our ugly tourist behavior. Public intoxication, graffiti, “that’s been happening since time immemorial,” he says.
And while bad behavior is “certainly in the news a lot these days,” Levine argues it’s a matter of simple math. With substantially more people traveling than even a decade ago, there are more opportunities for bad apples to emerge.
Fresh off 100 days of traveling through Europe, TV host and guidebook author Rick Steves sides with Levine.
“I marvel at how accessible great art is and great culture is to travelers … and I marvel that there’s not more people than are in their own little two-bit way terrorizing the culture,” he says.
Pandemic anxiety meets ‘main character’ energy. Andrea Bonior, a licensed clinical psychologist and host of the new podcast “Baggage Check,” is also hesitant to panic.
“I don’t want to say the sky is falling, because the vast majority of people are behaving themselves,” she says.
Bonior believes social media plays a huge role shaping how we perceive unruly tourists. Thanks to the speed of the internet and our unquenchable thirst for content, “when this bad behavior happens, we hear about it more,” she says. “Twenty-five years ago, if someone did anything boneheaded, it wouldn’t spread to millions of people.”
However, Bonior says that since the pandemic started, we’re more anxious, our threat response is heightened and we’re more sensitive to what we see as threats and slights. That’s resulted in “diminishing civility and increased coarseness in our culture,” she says. Travelers are lashing out, but the examples span into movie theaters, on Broadway and in concert venues.
Some of this wild behavior may also be influenced by the promise of going viral. On a more subtle level, social media can also inspire a “main character” mind-set, Bonior says.
“There’s an element of being the star of your own story,” Bonior says. “It’s a different mind-set than if you go travel somewhere and experience it as a passive observer.”
Steves says it’s been impacting his tours. He’s had to pause small concerts to tell his groups to stop recording on their phones. “Otherwise everybody’s going to be ignoring the music and jockeying for a good angle to get their selfie,” he says. “They’re not paying attention. They’re not in the moment. They’re missing the beauty of it.”
Sedgman agrees, adding that we’re incentivized to turn our lives — and our travels — into content. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok turned travel into social currency. Seeing a place as just a pretty post can distort the complicated reality.
Bonior recalls a recent viral TikTok video of a woman complaining that her trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast was not as social media had promised. Getting to the famous destination required much more effort — flights, trains, ferries and hauling one’s suitcase up nearly 200 steps — than influencers made it appear.
“Travel by definition is complicated and effortful and sometimes stressful, but I think in our culture we want the sound bite, we want the one perfect Instagrammable shot,” Bonior says.
The ‘Game of Thrones’ effect. Until 2015, the Jesuit Stairs in Dubrovnik were just another beautiful example of Baroque architecture in the Croatian city. Then came the global HBO hit “Game of Thrones.”
Specifically, there was an episode of Season 5 that featured Cersei Lannister subject to a nude “walk of shame” down the Jesuit Stairs through Dubrovnik old town. Since the episode aired, fans have flocked to the landmark to re-create the scene, sometimes going so far as to strip in the process. It’s a disruptive nightmare for the neighborhood. There’s bell-ringing, people throwing objects at the shame-ee.
“They get pretty drunk and go around screaming ‘shame,’” says Dubrovnik tour guide Ivan Vukovic. “The people who live in the area have post traumatic shame disorder.”
Vukovic believes Dubrovnik has successfully curbed some of the public nuisances through recent media campaigns. He sees posters around the city and online ads about proper etiquette. A new animated film about appropriate behavior plays on Croatia Airlines flights, in the Dubrovnik Airport and in cruise terminals, he says.
And unlike nearby Split or the Spanish island of Ibiza, Vukovic says Dubrovnik has never marketed itself as a party destination. Instead, they’ve advertised their desirability “for the food, for the culture and the sea and the sun,” and, more recently, for their “Game of Thrones” filming locations. “It’s branding … it takes time.”
Anti-boorish campaigns. National governments, tourism boards and citizen watchdogs are throwing various efforts at the wall to discourage tourist misbehavior.
So far, nothing has been as dramatic as China’s 2015 attempt at an “uncivilized behavior” list that the China National Tourism Administration promoted to stop its own citizens from embarrassing the country abroad.
In Bali, however, the government is promoting better tourist behavior by teaching dos and don’ts displayed via QR code at the airport. Indonesian authorities are also deporting bad actors and have announced plans to ban access to sacred places. Even Amsterdam is tightening marijuana and alcohol laws and reducing hours for restaurants and brothels. A “Stay Away” ad campaign targeted at British bachelor parties warns against public intoxication.
Because the global travel industry is only expected to keep growing, Levine isn’t convinced tourist conduct will get better anytime soon.
“There will be more ugly travelers,” he says. “There’s no force that I can see that will magically turn this around.”
Steves hopes the efforts don’t come at too great a cost to the majority of travelers who do behave.
“You need to have smart safeguards, but we need to have public access to the cultural wonders of this world,” he says. “And that comes with a small and steady risk that bad people will do bad things — it’s a price worth paying.”