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What Destination Has the Most Polite Tourists?

The most polite tourists

When it comes to international travel, it is a long standing, and perhaps unfair, stereotype that American tourists are not the most polite tourists, having few social graces and characterized as being loud and obnoxious. This perception may be changing in post-COVID times, as international destinations long for American tourists.

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  1. Did you know that people from Hong Kong hate to be winked at?
  2. Or that a smiling Japanese person isn’t necessarily happy?
  3. A wrong hand gesture or comment has the potential to turn a travel situation ugly.

Pick up any travel guide and you will most likely find a section dedicated to a range of specific cultural quirks which you would do well to study prior to embarking on a multi-destination trip. But how do Americans fare within its own borders? Vacation deal website, NextVacay.com, devised a “tourist politeness index” to determine, state by state, which Americans have the best and worst reputations when they vacation domestically.

They surveyed 3,000 people and asked respondents to evaluate tourist politeness on a scale from 1 to 10. It was discovered that the most-polite tourists hail from Alaska, ranking a strong 8/10 for their travel manners. Known as being pretty laid back, it is perhaps not surprising Alaska travelers ranked so highly – the good people of The Last Frontier also know how to travel – the Alaska Interstate highway system is comprised of just 4 roads, so they are well accustomed to having to adapt travel plans without any complaints.

Hawaii Ranked at 2nd Place

This is probably not surprising considering the state is known for its Aloha Spirit which spills out onto tourists that visit. How bad can a place be where you are greeted with a floral garland lei and the residents are happy to help out with directions and suggestions, all with a “No worry” as part of their guidance? There’s good reason it is called Paradise.

Least polite tourists

Over 1 in 3 say they have had a vacation ruined by the bad behavior of other tourists. The LEAST polite tourists, however, were those from Washington state, who ranked just 4 out of 10. While the Evergreen State might consistently rank highly when it comes to environmentally-friendly states, its reputation when it comes to friendliness does take a significant dip. According to a survey carried out in 2019, over half of Pacific Northwest residents don’t even want to talk briefly to people they don’t already know. It gives credence to the phenomenon known as the “Seattle Freeze” – which refers to a widely held belief that it is especially difficult to make new friends in the Washington city of Seattle. If they don’t get along particularly well with their local brethren, it is perhaps not surprising that they do not endear themselves to locals from other states when vacationing. Equally as impolite, tourists from Connecticut ranked 4 out of 10.

Interactive Tourists Politeness Index

It also appears Americans have a less than positive view of their fellow countrymen when they travel abroad. Less than half think that American tourists abroad are polite and, therefore, do not represent their country well – which influences a sizable 68 percent of respondents to confess that they’d avoid going to a foreign destination if they knew they had a known bad reputation there.

Closer to home, almost half (42 percent) of those surveyed who live in tourist hotspots said they would actually leave (if they could) for the vacation season, just to avoid tourists. And 1 in 3 respondents said they have had a domestic vacation negatively affected because of the bad behavior of other vacationers. Indeed, there might be particular times of year – such as Spring Break – that might attract the less well-behaved tourist.

Despite any stereotypes, it is encouraging that a sizable 82 percent of American tourists say they would strictly follow COVID protocols when traveling abroad, like mask wearing and social distancing.

Finally, 38 percent admit that they actually miss America when they are abroad.

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About the author

Linda Hohnholz, eTN editor

Linda Hohnholz has been writing and editing articles since the start of her working career. She has applied this innate passion to such places as Hawaii Pacific University, Chaminade University, the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center, and now TravelNewsGroup.

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