I’ve lived almost exclusively in places where people like to vacation. I’m from Miami, FL, where the beaches are impossibly full for months out of the year. Then I lived in Washington, DC, where you can’t go a day without seeing at least four fanny packs on a Midwesterner. And now I live in Prague, which is one of Europe’s most popular destinations. And as much as I love living in beautiful places, there are some things that suck about living in a tourist city.
Tourists don’t know how to use public transportation
What primitive cave do these people who block train doors and try to cram themselves inside before letting anyone off come from? Because they should fucking stay there. A lot of tourists are terminally clueless about how to use public transportation and they’re not interested in figuring it out. Because even if they can’t read the sign that says “Walk left stand right on the escalator,” they should be able to see that their entire family is blocking people from getting out of the station in an orderly fashion. Rude.
The nicest parts of the city are crowded
As a local, it’s awesome to enjoy the best things your city has to offer. As charming as my neighborhood is, I also think the Charles Bridge is beautiful and the view from Prague Castle is relaxing and inspiring. But unfortunately, I have to fight for space to enjoy those things with huge tour buses full of people taking selfies. Even though all the museums in DC are free and it’s a great alternative to staying home and watching TV, who wants to be stuck in an exhibit with 400 schoolchildren on a class trip? I can totally understand why people from Barcelona hate tourists stomping all over the markets and thoroughfares that used to be theirs to enjoy.
Tourism makes everything more expensive
When I first came to Prague 6 or 7 years ago, it was one of the cheapest places I had ever visited. We were warned of restaurants scamming us out of 10 whole cents by charging for whatever peanuts or bread they brought to the table. But the more popular a place gets, as Prague has over time, the more expensive things become. The closer you get to city center, the more you’re paying for food, drinks, and even regular shopping. And yes, because of tourists using Airbnb, housing also gets more expensive, displacing people who can no longer afford to live in the nicest parts of town.
There is more traffic
Whether it’s on foot or by car, being surrounded by a lot of people who don’t know where the hell they’re is going to create traffic. If you’re driving, it can be infuriating to get stuck at an intersection where people won’t stop streaming into the street whether they have the right of way or not. If you’re walking, it’s easy to bump into groups full of lost people who are looking up at their surroundings and not where they’re going. And all of that creates a gridlock for blocks.
Tourists make locals hate foreigners
I like living in friendly places where people are helpful and kind. But the more you encounter people from other countries that have no respect for you or your culture and treat your city like it’s Disneyland, the more you start to hate foreigners. As an American living in a foreign country, that sucks. Because at least sometimes, I’m unfairly associated with rude and disrespectful people from my country, even if I’m not myself rude or disrespectful. This is the same reason that even the kindest people of Iceland have become more hostile to tourists. Because their beautiful country is crawling with them and their shitty behavior.
Nothing is going to stop the ever-growing tourism industry. But maybe it’s better to spread the love around to smaller less well-known towns instead of saturating the same cities as always. Be the first to discover a totally cool city (so you can get the fuck out of mine)!