Return of the Tacky Tourists, and They’re Breeding Fast

In the wake of the Jasmine Revolution and the uncertainty that has loomed over Egypt for the last many months, it seemed appropriate to temporarily suspend our popular Tacky Tourist series.  However, even in this period when Egypt is experiencing a disastrous lull in tourism, the Tacky Tourists are still descending on the Valley in droves, and it would be a disservice to ignore them. Besides, I admit it brings me great personal pleasure to share them with you.  It is a rare thing to horrify and amuse simultaneously! All of the Tacky Tourist photos shared on this website to date came from my own archives and were taken by me or Salah El Masekh, my SCA inspector during my 2006 season.  Knowing that I couldn’t be the only scholar who had noticed these asinine behaviors, I asked my colleagues and Art of Counting project collaborators to photograph Tacky Tourists as they encountered them in the course of their field work.

In May 2011, Egyptologist, Peter Brand and his team headed back to Egypt to continue their work in the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak Temple.  Dr. Brand kindly asked his Karnak project photographer, Richard Fero, to take pictures of tourists behaving badly when he saw them during his work photographing the column reliefs.   And, boy, did he see a bunch!  Richard sent me dozens of photographs of dreadful dressers and destructive derrières to share with you.  The first new Tacky Tourist will be posted soon and we (unfortunately) have enough to keep you entertained and disgusted for quite some time.

Now, even though we will get a chuckle through our despair at the idiocy presented so plainly before the lens, it saddens me that right when Egypt needs a heavy influx of responsible tourists, the Valley instead seems to be teeming with the tacky.  What is needed is to help the local populations by bringing the incredibly essential tourist pounds while enjoying the monuments in such a way that they wil be preserved for future generations.  Another Art of Counting collaborator,  Dr. Stephen Harvey, Director of the Ahmose and Tetisheri Project at Abydos, just returned from guiding a tour in Egypt (for the AIA), as he has done for many years. He was all over the country, visiting a number of sites, including Abydos, Luxor, and Giza, and posted a succinct statement on his Facebook page:

Everyone, please visit Egypt and spend your money! Egypt’s economy, based so largely on tourism, is suffering, people are despairing, and they need our support. The country is safe, and there is no better time to go than now.

If you have ever dreamed of going to Egypt but just never had the chance, this is the time!  We will be seeking and sharing links to high-standard tour groups and other travel services to facilitate getting more quality travelers.  This is an incredible time to visit Egypt!  From colleagues who have gone in the last few months come tales of being basically alone on the Giza plateau or at the great monuments of Luxor (timed appropriately to avoid the ‘Peoples of the Sea’)  If you know of excellent companies, hotels, or tourist services, please share them with us!

Responsible tourists have GOT to outnumber these people…







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The Art of Counting is dedicated to the memory of Margery Meilleur, who first taught me to view history through the eyes of the images we create.