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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Who are the world's worst tourists?
Britons are the rudest, meanest and worst-behaved holidaymakers in the world, according to a new survey.
The research, by online travel service Expedia, also found that British tourists make the least effort to speak the local language.
Germans were the most popular holiday makers, followed by Americans - who also give the biggest tips.
British tourists are joined at the bottom of the league by those from Israel and Ireland.
Which country do you think has the best and worst tourists? Have you experienced rude tourists at work or on holiday? Send us your experiences.
I think Germans are one of the worst travellers. Backpacking around SE Asia we saw a lot of them treating the Asians quite rudely. When you are in a different country and you only speak English and you are rude, the hosts suddenly forget how to speak your language!
The worst tourists are the ones who book the cheapest holiday possible and then moan and complain about the lack of facilities, standards etc. until they go blue in the face. These mindless morons spoil the jewels of foreign countries from being visited. Take their passports off them!
John Olsson, Wales
Having lived abroad most of my life, but being English, I think I am in a good position to give my opinion of Brits on holiday. I agree that in some cases they can be ignorant and sometimes just plain hooligans. But I don't think you can generalise. Every nationality has their bad representatives of their country.
Unfortunately it has to be the British package holiday tourists. They take in nothing of the culture, get drunk and generally behave like the ignorant idiots they are.
Joe Andrews, Niue Island, South Pacific
I work in a tourist office and feel I am well qualified to judge. My least favourite tourists are South Africans, mainly because they always sound a bit severe and aggressive. I also don't like Londoners as they expect to get the same kind of amenities and standards of accommodation as they would in London.
One more thing, Americans are always lovely and very enthusiastic.
Every country is capable of having the best and worst of anything and anyone. I think the worst tourists in general (not by specific country) are those who go somewhere and expect others to understand their language and cater to their every whim. Travel for pleasure should be pleasurable for all involved, not just selfishness on the part of the guests.
Ellis, New York, USA
I worked my way through university in Montreal restaurants, which is probably the only time in my life I ever met tourists in such bulk as to observe anything approaching common national characteristics. I have to say that Americans were my favourites because they seemed the most interested in the city and they tipped like bandits. Almost as good were the Japanese - willing to be pleased and very organised customers. The most horrible were the French. They never wanted what was on the menu - something special the cook had to whip up right in the middle of the lunch rush was their usual demand.
Living in York, I see a lot of tourists. I don't think nationality makes much difference. I have met good and bad examples from around the globe. Having said that, if you ever come across a school party, run like the wind.
Bruce Jones, UK
Hey Bruce, UK: Very funny. It's especially funny because during my travels throughout the world, people have expressed a desire to learn American English and not British English. Why? Because American English is more dynamic, more easily understood, and simply cooler.
I think it is interesting that the characteristics which Brits enjoy attributing to American tourists (rude, arrogant, monolingual) are precisely the characteristics that other countries attribute to British tourists.
Perhaps it is finally time to put old myths to rest and deal with realities.
As long as tour operators and resort managers keep trying to create this "home from home" attitude to tourism, where the destination is unimportant as long as it is cheapish, the alcohol flows and it is hot, you are always going to have the "worst" kind of tourists from every country.
It is embarrassing to admit but I have gone on holiday and been ashamed to be British. Mind you I caught a German stealing from the tip plate on the bar more than once in Tunisia which was quite choice.
I was surprised to see US listed among the "best", since the US tourists I encountered overseas when I was in the Navy were the world's worst! I was ASHAMED to be an American and tried to apologise in the country's native language!
To lump all tourists by nationality is stereotyping pure and simple. That being said, the best and worst tourists I've ever met are my own fellow Americans. Go figure.
I spoke to a Thai tourist guide who said the guides are paid double when showing groups from Israel around because it's such hard work!
The worst: Parisian French (but not rural French) and anyone who is accustomed to high-society five-star travelling. The best: the Japanese, Aussies (except when associated with sporting events) and Americans older than university age and not from the north east US.
There are two types of British
tourist - the "Polite Peruvian Explorers"
and the "Ignorant Ibiza Lobsters".
In the more remote places I
have been, Brits have been
described as the most polite,
well-prepared, and culturally
However, we have all
seen the beer bellied idiots who
fly to European hot-spots to
get drunk and pink in the sun.
I think we can blame the growth
of package holidays and all-inclusive
resorts for the increase in lobster-Brits...
after all, these people aren't smart
enough to cope with independent travel!!
All tourists are annoying, period.
Living in a popular tourist locality in Australia, I see many Brits travelling on our roads. They are the most considerate drivers, one could hope to meet.
Mike Habersack, USA
If the English tourists are anything like I saw in a documentary of one of the islands off Spain, I am not surprised they are regarded as the rudest. I was quite shocked. When I lived in Spain I was spoilt rotten because I was English, the Spanish regarded us as being very well-mannered. Things must be really changing over there. What is happening to our culture?
Stuart, UK (Scotland)
Before Stuart from Scotland gets too smug about how much nicer his compatriots are, may I say that just the other day I was on a train heading for Manchester Airport where a group of Scots, clearly on their way to somewhere like Ibiza, were already half drunk, playing very loud dance music on a stereo and blocking the aisle for people trying to move down the carriage. Usually even the English wait until they get to the airport at least.
Scottish Stuart: I'm afraid that Scottish (and Welsh) tourists behave in the same way as the English. The only difference between us is that the Scottish (and the Welsh) are actually unfriendly to visiting English tourists, or even more so to English residents! You come here and everybody loves you. So who do you think are the unfriendly ones?
Some people say they feel ashamed that foreigners can speak our language but we can't speak theirs. But we should remember that English is a special case because so many people speak it - your Spanish waiter may seem very cosmopolitan when he speaks English to you, but he wouldn't be so confident faced with a restaurant full of customers who spoke only Japanese, Russian and Arabic, would he? Let's face it - nobody speaks every language in the world, so you might as well get on with speaking whatever languages are available to the people involved in any particular conversation.
Martin: That is the sort of ignorant attitude that gives the Brits a bad name. Given that Spanish and Mandarin Chinese are spoken more widely across the globe than English, why should the Brits be considered "a special case"? I agree with the report. Of all the tourists I come across whilst working here at the Grand Canyon, you Brits are the worst.
Tim, New York, USA
As an American who has travelled not infrequently in Europe, I can assure you that the easiest way to meet many of these rude travellers is to stay in the 'best' hotels and strictly follow guidebook recommendations. Venture further into the local lives, the small family-run hotels and hostels and little neighbourhood cafes, and you'll find a very different breed of tourist. They are inevitably dressed for comfort rather than show, and make sometimes Herculean efforts to speak the local language, with either impressive or comic results. Change your travel habits and befriend the polite traveller.
Once, when travelling through Germany with an interrail ticket, I was taken by surprise by the conductor who demanded a fare supplement after checking my ticket. While I fumbled in my rucksack, hoping to find some local currency, an elderly Norwegian man without asking, took out his money and paid. Up to this point I hadn't spoken a word to him ( he actually couldn't speak English) or his wife. Once I found some money they refused to take anything back. It was a small kindness, but it has left me with high regard for Norwegians ever since.
When I was at Euro Disney earlier this year I tried out my French a lot and could see that many people were appreciative that I did so. It doesn't hurt to make a bit of an effort. Of the other nationalities there I found that only the English made little or no effort to be polite and always assumed that the people they were speaking to were inferior because they didn't always speak English. People seem to be too busy these days to pause and to try and make an effort.
I have been around and in my modest opinion people are so diverse that you can apply any stereotype on any nationality and find it confirmed. The ones who do not fall into the stereotype, you do not notice. I have met rude Japanese, cultured Americans, polite Frenchmen and talkative Finns. The British are no different from the rest, but some of them act as if the Empire still existed and those are the ones you notice.
As individuals Israelis are as nice as any other tourist I have found on my travels in Asia and South America.
As are Americans, Germans and Brits.
There will always be the occasional rude one, but I believe group behaviour often results in giving bad impressions.
The main reason why the average British tourist in Spain, say, is more badly behaved than the average Spanish tourist in Britain is because any British louts will be attracted by the Spanish weather and cheap package deals, whereas any Spanish louts would be less likely to want to visit Britain. The survey isn't comparing like-for-like.
The best tourists are by far South Africans.
They are polite, they speak clearly, they have no real history so are amazed at Europe and they are really considerate of all.
I work at Disneyland and come in contact with tourists from all over the world on a daily basis. My co-workers and I all agree that Israelis are the most consistently rude tourists we have the misfortune to deal with. Contrary to the other comments posted, I find the British and Irish to be friendly and considerate.
As an American very much addicted to travelling overseas, I am aware of disdain for my compatriots. Some of the worst tourists I have seen are Americans. On the other hand, while on a recent trip to Ireland, a group of French teenagers acted as if the museum I was visiting was their very own recreational area, and don't get me started about their behaviour in the gift shop.
I live in Washington, DC, The rudest tourists here are our own Americans from the Midwest. Pushy, annoying and impatient! I've never met a rude European or Asian travelling here, I've been asked for directions many times, and the foreign tourists have always been polite and patient with language differences.
Adam, Paris, France
I think it depends where you go. In Amsterdam and Spain, the behaviour of many Brits is a total embarrassment. But the Brits I've met further afield, in places like Chile or Malaysia, are completely different. They are there because they are genuinely interested in learning about other cultures. Some people go on holiday to drink themselves stupid and lie on the beach; others go on a journey of discovery.
I have to agree with whoever put Israel at the bottom of this table. Hordes of young Israelis travel to Thailand when they finish their national service. They are noisy, arrogant and extremely rude to the Thai people. However having said that I did of course meet some who were extremely pleasant and polite, generally those who were not travelling in large groups. Perhaps the same could be said of us Brits?
The Expedia researchers have obviously never been to Bali. The Brits are ideal tourists, the Germans the most arrogant tourists on the planet, the Americans pretend to be Canadians, the Kiwis and Aussies drink all the beer and pay no tips, and the Japanese never move more than three paces from an air conditioner and only get off tourist buses to take heaps of photos and get straight back on the bus again.
Having worked in a restaurant near a major London attraction, I can say that the rudest tourists tended to be either very young or very old Germans, followed by old Americans, who would always ask if the prices were in American dollars. But to be honest, I'd have rather had any of them than deal with younger Brits - they drink too much, mouth off all the time, and are absurdly aggressive.
Having lived in Holland for a couple of years, I can say without doubt, that Brits abroad are the least likely to consider local people, customs, cultures and languages. There is an automatic assumption by Brits that all foreigners speak English, and a Brits idea of trying to speak another language involves raising their voice and gesturing wildly with an exasperated look. Is it really that difficult when visiting a foreign land to learn the basics such as 'please', 'thank you', 'yes' and 'no'???
Rachel Tyrrell, England
How pathetic to stereotype whole nations in the way some contributors have on this site. How can you say "the Americans are the rudest" or "the British are the rudest"? You should consider people on an individual level - failure to do this is arrogant beyond belief. As Rachel Tyrrell says below, the worst travellers are the rude ones. Unfortunately even the concept of 'rudeness' contains a degree of subjectivity to oneself and the local culture.
I've travelled all over the world and generally for me the people I least want to meet are Americans. They seem to make no effort to blend in and are really insensitive and dismissive of local heritage and culture. Once I met an American who thought that Edinburgh Castle was 'kinda neat' and then proceeded to ask where the nearest McDonalds was. Incredible.
The other morning I passed my flask, containing Irish whiskey, to a couple of peasants while we were waiting on the platform at Sigishuara station in central Rumania. One said to the other (in Rumanian) "Ah, the English are very polite." Though I bet they also think we're boozers.
As an Englishman married to a Spaniard, the results of this survey don't surprise me. Holidaying with my Spanish family in Alicante most summers, I am often embarrassed by the way the Brits behave which is usually fuelled by excessive drinking - something which isn't prevalent in Spanish culture. The Spanish tolerate it but don't like it. I wonder how we would react if it was the other way round?
As a British ex-patriate living and working in Kuching, Malaysia, it is my experience that most British visitors are the quieter ones with the backpacks and guidebooks who come here for the culture and the diving. You don't tend to get much drunken rowdiness here, because, as Malaysia is an Islamic country, the authorities take a very dim view of drunken yobs, who would be very quickly thrown into the nearest police van.
The worst tourists are those who insist on recreating home, no matter where they are in the world, no matter the local culture and customs around them. A lot of British do fall into this category, especially those with limited intelligence who think that the whole planet is a place to hold raves and blast moronic dance music out loud.
Mark Sharp, Colchester, UK
Go to most holiday destinations across the Med during July and August to see how bad the British tourists are. Scruffy, badly sunburnt, noisy, constantly drunk, sometimes violent and throwing up on every street corner once the bars and discos close. And that's just the women - the men are worse!
What I can't believe is that the Germans and Americans are at the top of the list. In most of the Med everybody hates the Germans for stealing all the sun loungers by putting their towels down at 4.00am and in the Caribbean everybody hates the Americans for being such ignorant, rude and always superior!
I agree with the survey. I moved to Amsterdam two years ago and it pains me to say it but the Brits are the worst behaved and the most ignorant tourists that come here. During the summer the city bars are held hostage by roaming gangs of drunk Brits looking for a good time. I don't think they understand that they give the rest of us a bad name.
I've worked in a souvenir shop and I would say that the Japanese must rate as one of the politest groups.
Some of the friendliest tourists I've met are American. However, Some of the least polite ones have been Americans. They seem to fall at both extremes.
19 Jul 02 | UK
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