Which are the most common national tourist stereotypes and how true are they?

Humans always tend to stamp geography-based labels on fellow Earth-dwellers. Sometimes national stereotypes are funny and sometimes offensive, even racist. Oftentimes, a few isolated incidents are enough to label a whole nation with certain stereotypes. But can we really include a whole nation in one group? Can really the worse-behaved tourists come only from certain countries? In this article, we’ll see which are the most common national tourist stereotypes and how correct they are. Let’s start:

1. French tourists are rude and arrogant

rude tourist common national tourist stereotypes

Just like fine wine, baguettes, and smelly cheese, rudeness is another thing that the rest of the world considers to be typically French. Multiple surveys conducted over the course of the last few years ranked French tourists as the rudest and most difficult ones to deal with. Sure, they might not know how to take a joke like the British. They are much more direct with negative feedback than any other Western European country. But does that really make them rude?

Are these stereotypes true?

After performing a quick search on Google about “Why are French rude?” it appeared as this is one of the few unanswered questions of our era. However, one thing I learned about the French while traveling around France is that their society has a different code of behavior and standards ­­that are quite different from other Europeans. And when interacting with them, you might be breaking some of these rules without even knowing.

This is where it gets tricky. It’s perfectly fine to keep up to those codes of behavior when you’re in your own country but should one keep this attitude when going abroad where people aren’t so familiar with the French way of doing things? It certainly is something to think about but nevertheless, I think this doesn’t make French rude but rather misunderstood.

2. German tourists complain a lot

common national tourist stereotypes

Germans are really famous in summer destinations for waking up extremely early to conquer the hotel sun loungers with their towels. Even Germans themselves acknowledge this. Even when they are holidaying, they do it with a lot of discipline. Germans take their holidays very seriously. In fact, so seriously, that it’s hard to tell if they’re actually having fun. My point is, rules are rules for Germans, no matter where they are. If that bedroom they booked doesn’t have the terrace from the brochure, a claim for compensation will most probably follow. They say eagle-eyed Germans don’ miss anything…

Is this true?

According to Deutscher ReiseVerband, Germans spend more on their holidays than any other nation. They are more than generous when tipping and they spend a lot in general. Hence, it’s completely reasonable to expect nothing short of what was promised to them. Finally, in my opinion, complains are completely reasonable if something you paid for isn’t there. So, no, I couldn’t agree with the statement that Germans have turned complaining into an art form.

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3. Americans are ignorant towards local culture

train scams

Americans normally have a lot shorter vacations compared to Europeans and when they travel, they are in a rush. They are list-tickers and want to see the places they want to see without wasting much time. On the way, many US tourists think everyone should do things their way and don’t care a lot about local traditions and customs on the way.

Are US tourists really like this?

Many surveys put US tourists at the top of the list for worst tourists in the world. I’ve personally seen some people from the US that they still thought things should be done the US way, despite being on the other side of the globe. However, I’ve also seen some that travel to learn and engage. And call you sir even if you don’t have a title. In my opinion, the disrespectful, loud know-it-all American is a disappearing breed and US tourists nowadays are a lot more respectful compared to the past.
Related: myth-busting: no one really gets paid to travel the world.

4. Japanese tourists are polite and behave impeccably

japanese tourist

The Japanese have acquired a reputation of tidy, punctual, and polite travelers. They behave impeccably most of the time, follow the local rules and customs without complaining, they almost never raise their voice or try to take pictures in places where that’s not allowed.

Are the Japanese really so nice?

This is the first stereotype I’d have to agree with but that’s a good thing. Even though there were some isolated incidents, I have never met a disrespectful Japanese traveler on the road and the ones I met were some of the best-behaved travelers I’ve ever met.

Related: things you can only see in Japan

5. British tourists are either very civilized or complete heathens

British tourist

The British tourist stereotype has two paradoxical strains. British tourists are either classy polite and overly apologetic or drunk barbarians and there’s no middle ground. That’s why the stereotypes of the British tourist often contradict each other. In Europe, the British are considered to be the drunk heathens, while in the US and Asia, the classy polite travelers.

Is this true?

When traveling you’ll come across many polite Brits and it’ll be your pleasure to talk to them and I’m not saying this just because of the accent. However, you will also come across as many that perfected the hotel balcony-to-pool jump and some that can even pick a fight with their own shadow. While the latter are normally teenagers or football fans, they are not the only ones giving their country a bad name. It sure seems like there aren’t many British tourists that don’t belong to either of these two groups but they are out there, even though they are a rare species.

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6. Chinese tourists are loud and don’t follow the rules

chinese tourists rude tourist common national tourist stereotypes

We’ve all heard and witnessed gruesome things done by Chinese tourists, from airport check-in meltdowns to urinating in public places, vandalism at archeological sites and even crazy things like throwing coins into a jet engine for good luck. After all these incidents, it’s no wonder Chinese tourists have gained a notorious reputation around the world. It’s also no wonder the Politburo created the tourism law that compels Chinese tourists to behave when abroad.  But…

Are all these stereotypes correct?

China has more than 1.5 billion residents and more than 130 million international travelers every year. A large portion of these 122 million people didn’t do anything wrong. I have been extremely irritated by Chinese tourists on the road on several occasions and in my personal experience, it’s the people that travel in groups that oftentimes cause these incidents. On the other hand, I also met a lot of Chinese tourists that travel solo or with a few friends who were very polite and respectful of local customs. I think that as China opens itself to the world and the number of international travelers keeps increasing, the number of the latter group will increase.

7. Israelis bargain about everything and are very impatient

jewish tourist

One of the biggest stereotypes about Israelis is that they are very cheap and that they bargain for everything. Additionally, many surveys rank them at the top of the list when it comes to disrespecting local cultures in the countries they’re traveling to. Many of them argue about hotel room rates, are impatient and extremely noisy, especially when in a large group. That’s why there are still hotels that have no-Israeli policies.

Is this true?

I met one very cool guy from Israel while I was traveling to India. He was traveling alone and was very polite and respectful towards local traditions. We traveled together in the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh and met some more Israelis on the way. As soon as he started interacting with them, he turned into a completely different person.

It seems that most of these incidents related to Israeli travelers happen when they’re in a large group. When they are alone, their behavior changes completely. Additionally, many younger Israelis that just completed military service are backpacking solo and improving the image for tourists from their country.

8. Russian tourists are the unsmiling masters of cultural faux

common national tourist stereotypes

Russians rarely smile at people and don’t really care if people don’t like them. Additionally, they are notorious for drinking vodka and getting aggressive afterword. 42% of Russians believe that their compatriots are the worse behaved tourists in the world. Finally, even the Russian Foreign Ministry thought things are bad enough to create a tourism brochure including helpful tips for Russian travelers, including refraining from prodding Kenyans and other Africans and calling them monkeys.

Are Russian tourists really that grumpy?

Whenever I talk about Russians, I have to bring up the theory of coconuts and peaches. According to this theory, people are divided into two groups. The peaches are warm on the outside and share personal stories but if you think that’s genuine intimacy, you’ll hit the hard ‘inner stone’. Coconuts, on the other hand, are hard and cold on the outside but once you go through their hard shell, you’ll see that they aren’t bad at all. That’s the case of most Russians, in my opinion. Just like the French, they are misunderstood.

Related: Stereotypes about Russia which aren’t true

9. Indian tourists are very demanding and rude to staff

Indian tourist

A lot of Indian travelers come off as obnoxious and are some of the most demanding and rude tourists you can come across. According to this research, Indians are the least favorite passengers of most flight attendants. I also witnessed a lot of situations in which Indians were rude to flight attendants or hotel staff. Of course, this can’t be said about everyone but when they go abroad, a lot of Indians seem like they’re in some kind of competition to see who can be the most demanding and most rude to staff and other tourists.

Are these claims true?

Even though there are many poor-behaved Indian tourists I couldn’t say this is true. Firstly, because there are a lot of Indians who emigrated and are living abroad and seamlessly integrate into society. However, just like the Chinese, increasing income levels have allowed many more Indians to travel and most of the millions of Indians that travel internationally haven’t done anything wrong. However, the stereotype remains alive because of the tourists that are rude to staff whether at the airport or in the hotel/restaurant and the people that don’t quite know the meaning of the word queue.

common national tourists stereotypes

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19 thoughts on “Which are the most common national tourist stereotypes and how true are they?”

  1. Excellent post. I like how you addressed each stereotype and explained why people behave the way that they do. The hope for any group or individual is that they will change as people are exposed to more parts of the world. Perhaps if we can also understand how we see each other and understand one another’s behavior, these stereotypes will be lessened.

    Reply
    • Indeed, that was the main point of my post. This list could go a lot longer but the point would be the same: to reconsider your behavior when abroad after reading the stereotypes about tourists from your country. Thank you for your comment.

      Reply
  2. Nice post! As a Russian, I would like to thank you for having a very accurate representation of what Russian people are. Everyone tells Russians don’t smile, but Russians smile to the people they know. You just have to know them better.

    Reply
    • Indeed, Alexander. I think Russians are misunderstood, getting portrayed as the bad guys all the time. I have a lot of Russian friends and lived in Russia for some time, so I know a thing or two 🙂

      Reply
  3. This was such a fun post to read! From my travels so far, the Chinese tourists behave really badly; some even pushed me out of the way in a line! I also agree with the Americans. Not all of course, but many I’ve met only know about the US.

    Reply
    • I’ve seen that happen several times Lisa. Sorry you had to experience that. However, I believe the younger generations will improve the reputation of Chinese tourists their older counterparts have created.

      Reply
  4. You addressed each nation’s stereotype and explained why people behave the way that they do, in almost every entry.
    Except the British. You stated “While the latter are normally teenagers or football fans, they are not the only ones giving their country a bad name. I would have to agree with this stereotype as well because British tourists that don’t belong to either of these two groups truly are a rare species.”
    Whilst I understand the nature of your post, you do seem to have made this entry just a little personal.
    Every other nationality seemed to get the benefit of the doubt from you, except the British.

    Reply
    • Perhaps I didn’t express my thoughts well. The fact that British tourists belonging to neither group are a rarity doesn’t mean that there aren’t any but I see your point. I think I’ll rephrase that in the article too, thanks for pointing it out 🙂

      Reply
  5. Amazing observations that come from such extensive travels as yours. A very interesting read. I do think that while Indians are usually more polite abroad than when they are in India. A common trait with both Indian and Chinese tourists I have seen is their obsession with selfies and getting the right photograph with the places they visit.

    Reply
    • Thank you Sinjana. I noticed these similarities between Indian and Chinese too. These two are arguably the most selfie-obsessed tourists out there 🙂

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  6. Quite an extensive representation of people from across the globe. Have probably experienced a bit of everything that you have mentioned here. Sometimes even two sides of the same coin. Great read!

    Reply
  7. Thats a very interesting and even a bit funny list of stereotypes. Haha no wonder that most of them are usually about bad habits but of course also quite generic. Nevertheless I think some of them might be even true. At least as a German I can relate to some of the German stereotypes. Yes, very often they have a look on how to optimize things, thats kinda true. Also I must say I experienced some of the stereotypes by myself for other countries mentioned here, but also the complete opposite as well… But yes, overall a very nice list of stereotypes 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you for your comment, Hendrick. That might be true but that’s one of the things I love about Germans because I see it in myself even though I’m not one. But yeah, Germans definitely need to be more relaxed during their holidays, forget about the optimization for a while and enjoy more 🙂

      Reply
  8. This was such an interesting post and yet a very informative post to read. Yes, I have been judgemental in my outlook towards travellers from other countries in the initial years of my travels. Now, I have come to realize that it has got nothing to do with nationality but more to do with their upbringing and general outlook towards fellow beings. Oh! And I hate some passengers who speak loudly throughout the long-flight without considering the inconvenience caused to co-passengers. That is when the old me still pops out and says ‘Look he/she is behaving improperly. Must be from so and so state/country”… 😀

    Reply
    • Indeed it doesn’t. The trap is when people travel in groups and oftentimes behave differently under the influence of other individuals. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the tourists from their country will behave in that way 🙂 Thank you for your comment and I’m glad to hear you liked the article

      Reply
  9. These are interesting national stereotypes and I guess that is what they are. Again though there might be an iota of truth in these. These are based on specific incidents and it would be unfair for an entire nation to bear the cross of the misdeeds of the few.

    Reply
  10. Have heard a lot about all of these people but then I would say we shouldn’t stereotype, its not right. It was very good to read a balanced perspective too. I am sure you agree its all about an individual. I mean if I had to talk about Indians, I would say some are extremely misbehaved and some extremely cultured and helpful. So we seriously can’t blame it on the whole country where they belong.

    Reply
    • Of course we shouldn’t. That was the whole point of the article 🙂 It’s definitely individual even though things seem to change when people travel in groups. However, of course the idea of blaming it all on their perspective country is wrong and we should avoid it.

      Reply

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