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How to Deter Tourists: Global Experiences

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Photo: How to Deter Tourists, Source: Collage The Gaze \ by Leonid Lukashenko
Photo: How to Deter Tourists, Source: Collage The Gaze \ by Leonid Lukashenko

It might seem that there is nothing better than an influx of tourists – they spend money, boost the local economy, and often share their experiences on social media, essentially providing free advertising. However, increasingly popular travel destinations are not encouraging visits, but rather trying to reduce them. Any means are used to achieve this.

One tourist is good, a hundred is great, a thousand is amazing. But when the flow of travellers to a specific spot on the map begins to number in the tens and hundreds of thousands, it starts to resemble a locust invasion. Some places employ legal methods to deter unwanted hordes of tourists, such as fines, bans, and taxes. Others resort to outright fraud, the introduction of strict and inhumane rules, or even bloody conflict.

Fence Around Mount Fuji

When the Japanese authorities announced the closure of the popular viewing platform near Mount Fuji, the news caused surprise among both foreign tourists and the Japanese themselves. After all, the majestic volcano seemed to have been created by nature for everyone to admire, especially from the platform behind the Lawson store, which offers the best panorama in all of Japan. But the residents of Fujikawaguchiko breathed a sigh of relief. The local utilities were tired of cleaning up mountains of trash left by tourists, the police were exhausted from fining them for traffic violations, and the owners of a dental clinic were fed up with chasing photographers off their roof. Ultimately, the authorities decided to erect a 2.5-meter-high fence to put an end to the invasion of barbaric tourists. Now the best view of Mount Fuji can be found only on old postcards.

Barriers Against Perverts

A battle against barbarians was also waged in Kyoto, where tourists have been banned from visiting several historic streets. The problem was that foreigners flocked there en masse to interact with geishas – traditional Japanese performers whom they mistakenly considered exotic prostitutes. In reality, geishas in Japan do not provide sexual services; they entertain clients exclusively with dancing, singing, tea ceremonies, and polite conversations. Initially, Kyoto installed signs requiring people to keep a distance from geishas, with a fine of $67 for violators. However, this did not help: almost every day, a geisha would tearfully report to the police that tourists had tugged at her kimono, filmed her on their phones, touched her painted face, or even followed her into private homes. Consequently, foreign tourists are now completely banned from certain streets, making it easier for those eager to see Japanese women in kimonos to buy the DVD "Memoirs of a Geisha" or watch the recent Netflix series "Shogun."

Advertising Warnings


British travel companies advertise a weekend trip to Amsterdam as an opportunity for lads to have the ultimate party in Europe’s most liberal city – drinking, smoking, and visiting the red-light district. However, local Dutch residents suffer from young booze tourists who urinate on the streets, vomit into the canals, and brawl with everyone in sight on Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to banning the construction of new hotels in Amsterdam, the local authorities launched an anti-advertising campaign last year. Now, when a Brit searches for “pub,” “cheap hotel,” or “stag party” along with “Amsterdam,” a video pops up showing Dutch police harshly arresting a drunk young man, throwing him in jail, and issuing a fine. The video ends with an unwelcoming stern message: “So coming to Amsterdam for a messy night? Stay away.” Although the anti-advertisement has been viewed over 3 million times, the situation in Amsterdam has barely changed. The local authorities are still pondering how to transform the image of the Netherlands' capital from a “city of sins” to a “city of cultural recreation.”

Sharia Law

Sometimes anti-advertising seems to create itself, as happened in Afghanistan. 5,000 years of history – surely a reason for tourists from all over the world to flock to ancient Kabul? No – because after the Taliban came to power, only 691 extreme tourists visited the country in 2021. Firstly, it is almost impossible to get a visa, as many countries have cut diplomatic ties with Afghanistan, not recognising the Taliban regime. Secondly, tourists are deterred by the strict Sharia laws. For example, women are prohibited from eating in public places or freely interacting with men outside their family circle. Moreover, women are not allowed to leave their homes without a male relative accompanying them. When the Taliban, naively aiming to increase the flow of tourists to Afghanistan, opened the only beauty salon, spa, and fitness centre for women in the entire country in their five-star Kabul Serena hotel, they allowed access only to those with a foreign passport. It is no surprise that most female tourists from Western countries, who are predominantly feminists, avoid Afghanistan, at least in solidarity with local women.

Fake Announcements

Tourism revenue accounts for one-fifth of Greece’s annual income. However, the more tourists there are, the more expensive short-term rentals become, and consequently, long-term rentals also become pricier, causing hardship for local residents. At the end of last year, fake announcements appeared in Athens, allegedly posted by the municipal authorities. They claimed that the city was facing a catastrophic bedbug situation, urging all tourists staying in "private guesthouses" to leave immediately or face a €500 fine. Similarly, Spanish anti-capitalists from the Manacor Caterva movement tried something similar by placing signs at the approaches to Mallorca’s beaches, claiming a three-hour walk was required to reach them. At the actual beach locations, other signs appeared stating, “Beach closed,” written in English, with a note in Spanish below: “…only for jellyfish and foreigners – no danger, the beach is open.”

Flash Mob Stickers

The anti-tourist revolution in Málaga, Spain, was accidentally sparked by an angry local named Dani Romero. The city has stickers for homes rented to tourists, marked with a blue background and the letters “AT” for “tourist apartments.” Romero, who was being evicted from his preferred apartment because it was more profitable to rent it out short-term, came up with the idea of adding a few letters to these stickers, drastically changing their meaning – now they indicated a "resident attack." Other Málaga residents, also suffering from a lack of housing and soaring prices due to the influx of tourists, turned Romero’s idea into a flash mob. The blue stickers began to convey unpleasant messages to city guests, such as “This used to be my home,” “Smells like a tourist,” and “Take your butts home.”

Paid Visits

In most cases, locals do not want to completely stop the flow of tourists but rather wish to control it. For instance, from April 25 to July 14, Venice introduced a trial period of paid tourist visits to the city centre. The issue they aim to address is that the population of Venice’s historic districts is about 50,000 people, while in peak season, they receive almost as many tourists daily. Although these tourists bring substantial income to local businesses, Venetians feel like they are living in a thoroughfare rather than their own city. Additionally, UNESCO is raising the alarm, expressing intentions to add Venice to the list of endangered heritage sites not only due to climate change but also because of the overwhelming influx of tourists. Now, each visitor must download a QR code for €5, which will be checked by controllers in the city. Attempting to visit Venice without paying will result in a fine of €50 to €300.

Tax Incentives

In 2016, there were 6,000 short-term rental listings on Airbnb in central Florence, and by 2024, this number had increased 2.5 times. Consequently, the cost of monthly rent for ordinary Florentines has risen by 42%, and those who can afford the exorbitant prices for the basic opportunity to rent housing in their own city feel like they are living in an apartment hotel, with tourists from around the world constantly coming and going. This situation prompted the city council to ban short-term rentals in central Florence altogether. As compensation for landlords, tax incentives were offered for three years if they rented out their apartments long-term.

Desperate Protests

In 2006, the picturesque Austrian town of Hallstatt was featured in the Korean drama "Spring Waltz," which became a hit in Asian countries. In 2012, China even built a replica of the town, where real estate sold for more than the medieval houses in the original Hallstatt. Eventually, the small settlement with a population of just 700 people began to receive a million tourists annually. Shocked Hallstatt residents, who suddenly found themselves not so much on the shores of an Alpine lake but rather in a 24-hour train station, staged a protest demanding that the number of tourist buses be reduced by at least two-thirds. Of course, the desperate action of 700 people was a drop in the ocean compared to the 10,000 tourists who visit Hallstatt daily.

Bloody Wars


Sometimes, opposition to the influx of tourists comes not from local residents but from “neighbouring residents,” so to speak. For example, in 2021, the number of wealthy tourists from Saudi Arabia visiting Ukraine increased tenfold, with these tourists spending nearly $100 million there. In 2022, this figure would have increased tenfold again, as Ukraine boasts 140,000 historical and cultural landmarks. However, the situation changed when Russia launched a full-scale genocidal war against Ukraine. Naturally, with daily air raid sirens, Iranian drones buzzing in the sky, and Russian fascists forces attempting to destroy, burn, and contaminate everything they cannot capture, Ukraine as a tourist destination is facing very difficult times. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the war, foreigners supported Ukrainians by booking over 60,000 nights with local hosts on Airbnb, without intending to use them. By 2023, more than two million people from all over the world crossed Ukraine’s borders for private purposes despite the war.

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