Bucket Lists, Bad Tourists, and Blatant Ignorance

The Environment with Melissa Evatt.

Happy New Year!

With 2022 well underway and everyone just finding their footing with the new year ahead, it can be said for some people that bucket lists and to-do lists will be made in order to live our best lives and achieve our goals and aspirations for this coming year.  

There are many countries, cities, and places around the world that suffer at the hands of bad tourism. Blatant disrespect of many cultures, Indigenous people, and their land has meant that many tourists knowingly/unknowingly wander into protected and sacred land.  

Here are a few examples of places you shouldn’t visit, places you should be wary of, and places that require a lot of research before visiting:

1). Hawaii, Haiku Stairs

Hawaii’s infamous, Haiku Stairs, aka the Stairway to Heaven, are a set of 3,992 stairs climbing to the very top of a mountain based in Kaneohe. This trail is known for its very breath-taking and Instagramable views, as well as the incredibly steep climb to the top.

Whilst many can agree on its beauty, many of Hawaii’s residents and neighbours of the Haiku Stairs have expressed their anger, concern, and upset at individuals who have blatantly ignored and disrespected Hawaii laws and continued to climb and film their expeditions up the Haiku Stairs.

Many local residents and those native to Hawaii have taken to social media, especially Instagram and TikTok, to share their thoughts and opinions on such foolishness and such blatant disrespect to laws. Whilst some sources/influencers may say otherwise, to climb the Haiku Stairs is in fact ILLEGAL and can result in incredibly serious repercussions for those that even attempt. Not to mention that those who are silly enough to do so are often inexperienced hikers, which have led to several injuries on the mountain and Hawaii emergency services using precious resources to save and rescue hikers who have gotten stuck/broken a leg/or fall as a result of ignoring the many signs that surround the area.

The Haiku Stairs have been illegal since 1987 and are to be removed promptly due to multiple injuries, and cases of illegal trespassing.

2). Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, based in the Northern Territory of Australia, is a protected park home to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta. Uluru (Ayers Rock) is known for being a sacred site and has been a significant landmark for Aboriginal people. According to the local Aboriginal people, Uluru’s numerous caves and fissures were all formed due to ancestral beings’ actions in the Dreaming.

The Dreaming (definition), is a term used by Aboriginal people to represent the time when the Ancestral Spirits progressed over the land and created life and important physical geographic formations and sites.

Officials at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park had to impose a ban which was implemented on the 26th October 2019, which meant that tourists were not allowed to climb Uluru after many incidents of tourists climbing, illegally camping and littering around Uluru were recorded by park rangers.

3). Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is one of the US’s largest and oldest national parks, covering a total of 3,472 square miles (8,992 square km) and is home to the Yellowstone Caldera Volcano and many, incredibly active geysers and hot springs. Not only is this park incredibly known for its breath-taking views but for one of its very active geysers, nicknamed Old Faithful. Old Faithful is a geyser which ‘erupts’ every 90 minutes which can be easily predicted and has become a large and popular tourist attraction.

Due to the park’s size and spouts of tectonic activity, people are advised to remain on all paths and trails at all times. Wandering off marked paths has caused many fatalities at Yellowstone.

“Geothermal attractions are one of the most dangerous natural features in Yellowstone, but I don’t sense that awareness in either visitors or employees,” says Hank Heasler, the park’s principal geologist.

4). Spanish Steps (Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti), Rome

The capital of Italy, Rome, is known for its beautiful, picturesque views and stunning architecture, dating back to Ancient Rome.

The Spanish Steps, a type of Baroque architecture, built as a celebration of the peace between Spain and France was designed by Italian architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi, to connect the French Church of Trinità dei Monti with the Spanish Square.

The Spanish Steps were made famous in 1953 after they appeared in the Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday, which led to tourists flocking to the famous staircase outside of Piazza di Spagna.

Due to its popularity, more and more tourists arrived daily to sit on the stairs for pictures, to chat with locals, and just to admire the artistry, however it is now illegal to sit on the Spanish steps.

“Visitors are not allowed to sit on the steps. They are also forbidden to eat or write on the stairs. Besides, some behaviours are also banned, such as selling goods without permission or dressing up as an ancient Roman officer to take pictures with tourists. We are here to make people follow these rules,” said Antonio Di Maggio, director of the municipal police of Rome.

5). Maya Beach, Thailand

Thailand’s iconic Maya Beach, part of the Hat Noppharat Tara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, closed in 2018 after tourism ruined the bay with litter, water pollution from boats and destroyed over 50% of the coral reef.

Maya Beach became popular after the film The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which was released in 2000. Since its release, over 6,000 tourists would flock to Maya Beach every day which eventually led to its 4-year closure.

Maya Beach has now been set to reopen this year, however, visitors will be limited to 300 people in one of seven or eight shifts per day between 10am and 4pm.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but an insight into the types of scenarios to be aware of when you impulse book that holiday!

So to summarise:

  • No trespassing! Just because it looks nice doesn’t mean it’s legal or safe!
  • Do your research! Where are you going? What places/cities/monuments are you planning on visiting? Will you upset/offend the locals there by visiting/partaking in these activities? Are you being respectful to the cultures around you?
  • Stay on the paths! Please don’t wander off, or try a trail that may look quirky or fun, it’s probably not and I can guarantee there’s probably a sign trying to stop you.
  • No littering! Please! It’s gross and harms our environment!

With these in mind, also be sure to enjoy yourself! Experiencing other cultures and countries is perfectly acceptable when remaining polite and respectful!

Stay safe and happy travels!

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