Tacky Tourists

Below is the gallery link for our ongoing series of tourists wearing or doing, shall we say…interesting things.  Tourists seem to have an amazingly oblivious quality about them, regardless of the attraction they are visiting.

In my early 20’s, I worked at Walt Disney World in Orlando for several years and saw some intensely bizarre behavior from our guests.  These people were from all countries and walks of life; it didn’t really seem to matter–tackiness comes in many, many flavors.  We’d joke that there was a cast member (aka employee) and storage unit at every entrance to the property, greeting each guest with a chipper “Welcome to Walt Disney World!  Please leave your brain in the locker and gather it upon exit–you won’t need it here!”  Getting punched in the face by a 65 year-old woman, angry that her wailing granddaughter had been unable to gather signatures from all four of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles due to the crowd at their popular ‘Meet and Greet’ appearance, was one of my more surreal experiences to date.

In traveling to historic landmarks in Europe, I was often disturbed by the utter lack of knowledge of some visitors.  One woman I encountered in the Pantheon stands out.  At the gift kiosk inside the monument, she shoved past me to get a better look at some chintzy, airbrushed sand cast magnets OF the Pantheon and asked the proprietor where THAT monument was.  His look was absolutely priceless, and I always wished I had taken a photo immortalizing it.  The other thing that stunned me about some of the tourists was their complete idiocy in terms of clothing selection.  If your plan for the day is to wander the streets of Pompeii, perhaps high-heeled, strappy sandals and a miniskirt might not be your best choice.  Just a thought.

These two groups of Tacky Tourists–the ignorant and the inappropriately attired–are at least not usually destructive (just entertaining).  The fondlers, however, are a real problem.  We literally lose bits of history every single day due to these people who insist on touching monuments and objects.

My last research season in Egypt, I began to photograph tourists behaving badly with the intention of disseminating them as far and wide as possible with the message of “Please, please, please DON’T DO THIS!!!”  The fact that they also often leave one speechless with astonishment is just a bonus.

Click here to see the gallery of Tacky Tourist photos! This collection will be added to regularly.

And if you have any Tacky Tourist photos you would like to share, please let me know!  Goodness knows they are EVERYWHERE…

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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.