Did you ever get in trouble at school for carving your crush’s initials into a desk?
We won’t tell, but there’s a new vandal in town making that look like child’s play: tourists.
Around the world, officials are reporting an uptick in misdemeanors, and it’s getting ugly:
- A man was caught on video etching his girlfriend’s name into the wall of the Colosseum. He could now face up to five years in prison and a $16.4k fine.
- In China, tourists damaged geological landforms by standing in prohibited areas (to take photos, of course).
- An American smashed two sculptures in the Vatican after being told he couldn’t see the pope.
- Rome’s Spanish Steps got pummeled by a Maserati just weeks before a tourist caused $27k in damages by throwing a scooter at it.
The worst part? Those aren’t even a fraction of the incidents. Venice alone had 46 acts of tourists defacing monuments from January to October 2022.
WTF is going on?
The simplest explanation: more tourists mean more chances for things to go awry, and international travel has outpaced last summer.
Italy alone saw international arrivals increase 86% YoY in the first quarter of 2023 (which explains why so many of these horror stories are taking place there).
But there’s more at play:
- Easing covid restrictions have travelers eager to get away, and two years of pent up energy can be destructive.
- Social media and striving to “go viral” can push tourists into making risky choices.
- Movies and TV turn monuments into popular tourist attractions, which can harm locals and disrupt cities (looking at you, “Game of Thrones”).
But tourist destinations are fighting back: Bali has deported 136 tourists this year, Italy passed a bill that ups the penalties for vandalism, and Amsterdam launched a “stay away” campaign to discourage rowdy visitors.
We think Croatia should be next up, yelling “shame” at tourists who misbehave.
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