Did you know that the world-famous Everest base camp on the Chinese side is now closed to tourists? This is not because of inclement weather but due to the huge amounts of trash left around by tourists. We must bear with the Chinese Government as it carries a clean-up drive to free the beautiful landscape from the piles of trash. They cleared a mind-boggling eight tonnes of waste from the area only last year.
Taking Insta-worthy travel shots on EMI and Credit Cards is the new trend
Thriving economies and easily payable EMI-based tour packages have contributed to the rise in the travelling spree in recent years. Furthermore, the social media trigger has almost opened Pandora’s Box to wanderlust. The more people travel, the better it is for economies as well as for cultural exchange. However, the downsides are adverse. From overcrowded destinations to ignorant tourists and damaged habitats to excess trash accumulation- the list is long. Cultural insensitivity is also a significant problem. For example, a viral post of a tourist taking pictures smiling with victory signs at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin was widely criticised.
Addressing the elephant in the room
We have to address the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’- Indian tourists since we are talking about unruly tourists. Recently, a viral video is doing rounds online where employees of a Bali hotel are seen confronting an Indian family. The hotel staff is seen recovering various items the family allegedly stole from their room in the video. It might be a one-off incident but it brings the rising problem of tourist behaviour to light.
According to a 2015 survey by Hotels.com, Argentinians are most likely to steal items (not including toiletries) from their rooms. However, it is true that Indians seem to have a reputation for being disruptive and boisterous while travelling, not only abroad but even at home.
After all, we all have seen the unwanted ‘murals’ of “Raj loves Pinky” with a heart sign on heritage monuments across India. Some local tourists vandalised a pillar at Hampi, a UNESCO heritage site, only last year.
Let us fix it at home, so we can fix it everywhere
Indians live by the mantra of Atithi Devo Bhava, which roughly translates into ‘guests are equivalent to God’. Tourists from various countries often say that the warmth, respect and hospitality they experience in India are rare to find elsewhere. But, sadly, we tend to be insensitive towards local customs or laws, be loud in quiet zones or just litter wherever we can when travelling.
We could argue that all Indian travellers are not the same and it would hold true. But, we have to agree that a sizeable number of us can be quite inconsiderate. This tendency can be traced to the lack of strict rules by our Government against littering in public spaces. The dearth of awareness regarding historical sites as well as other cultures also plays a key role.
However, the image is not beyond repair. Creating awareness campaigns and having stricter rules could salvage the Indian tourist both domestically and abroad. We need to learn to abide by the rules in our country. Knowing the value of historical sites and learning to respect the environment can help us become better tourists. Once we start being a responsible traveller at home, we would automatically be more respectful towards the rest of the world.
With regards to the viral Bali video, let us just say that personal choices can only lead to personal consequences. That video does not reflect all Indian tourists.
Check out these beautiful food and culture snapshots from Bali.