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
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
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
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
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.
5. British tourists are either very civilized or complete heathens
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.
6. Chinese tourists are loud and don’t follow the rules
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
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
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.
9. Indian tourists are very demanding and rude to staff
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.