Tourism has boomed to one of the largest industries in the world in recent years, affecting nearly every city on the planet. While there is so much good that comes out of this boom, for a variety of reasons, quite a few places have started to push back against the tourism industry.
Some places are straight-up sick of tourists, some ecosystems have been withering away and need some space to recover. A few places have been going through conflict, economic crisis, or some other socio-political problems that have made tourism impractical and/or impossible.
While many places still love tourists, there’s certainly plenty to take away from the messages that we’ve heard from people all over the world. Respect for local peoples and cultures, including kindness, adaptability, and cleanliness (of yourself and your environment) are certainly going to help give travelers access to more of this beautiful world.
25 Galapagos Islands, Ecuador - Shunned
Darwin’s studies of the wildlife throughout the Galapagos have made the destination a household name, translating to a massive increase in ecotourism over the last couple of decades. The balancing act of supporting tourism and simultaneously protecting the native wildlife and working to make them thrive has become difficult in recent years.
There is now a list of 14 rules that all tourists must adhere to in order to be allowed onto the islands since they were announced as an endangered UN Heritage Site.
24 Venice, Italy - Shunned
Experts predict that by 2030, there will be no native Venetians in Venice.
It’s become such an insanely popular tourist destination that the city is literally sinking and rising rents have been forcing out locals en masse. There have been a variety of programs established to make Venice a less appealing city to tourists and to make tourists less annoying to locals such as a proposed idea to separate boats between the two groups so locals can sail in relative peace.
23 Iran - Banned
Following the situation at the U.S. embassy in 1979, today, Iran doesn’t even have a U.S. embassy. Because of this, it is notoriously difficult to even obtain a visa to enter the country. Furthermore, Iran requires all visitors to be a part of a tour group, not allowing single travelers or families in for a vacation.
Given current relations between the US and Iran, it might be a good idea to hold off on a vacation to the country for a little while.
22 Havana, Cuba - Shunned
Cuba had been completely closed to US tourists for decades until relations began to normalize in the last couple of years. The opening of Cuba’s gates has opened the island nation up to tourists that came flocking, hoping to see a country stuck in the 1960s.
While Havana especially has become a great spot for international travelers, the Cuban locals have been slowly warming up to the masses. Regardless, this beautiful city should still be on any traveler’s list, just in case relations begin to cool once again.
21 Lord Howe Island, Australia - Shunned
Many places across the world have recently begun limiting the number of tourists that are allowed at any given time. Lord Howe Island off the coast of Australia has set this number to a minuscule 400 people at any given time.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is certainly worth the wait because of its exquisite beauty, but it’s considered one of the cleanest places in the entire world for good reason. The locals want to keep it that way, so they naturally aren’t the biggest fans of tourists flocking to their island paradise.
20 Somalia - Banned
Apparently, a government is kind of important for a tourist industry. Somalia is currently the only country in the world without a functioning government and their tourist industry isn’t in much better shape. The pirate thing is no joke either.
If you’re looking for a dangerous place for your vacation, it’ll be pretty difficult to find anywhere more dangerous than Somalia. There are a variety of beautiful destinations across the country, so hopefully for everyone’s best interests, things get better soon.
19 Lyon, France - Shunned
French locals are notorious for not being the biggest fans of tourists and are often rude when surrounded by selfie sticks and obnoxious Mona Lisa print t-shirts. Sure, Paris is easily the most populous tourist destination in the country (and the world), but some of the country’s runner-ups take even less kindly to tourists.
France’s eastern city of Lyon is similarly notorious for rude locals with little patience for bad accents and culinary illiteracy in an attempt to keep tourism at a manageable level.
18 Machu Picchu, Peru - Shunned
Beauty can only handle so much. These ancient Incan ruins are one of the most famous spots in all of South America, but the government has begun implementing measures to both limit tourism and to increase ecological education for tourists and locals alike.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site has been added to their Endangered list as well and, by next year, all foreigners must hire an official guide and stick to one of three official designated trails.
17 Syria - Banned
There is a myriad of reasons to avoid Syria at the moment, such as a major conflict. If personal safety and international conflict aren’t enough to deter you (they should be), then it still won’t be easy to get into this Middle Eastern country.
The Syrian visa is notoriously one of the most difficult to get in the world and even if you somehow make it into the country, you’ll likely be such an outlier, that you likely won’t exactly be a welcome sight.
16 Marrakech, Morocco - Shunned
If you’ve got a mental picture of Morocco but never been there, chances are you’re thinking of Marrakech. Through the markets, you can find just about anything you need for culinary exploration or unique crafts.
The two million tourists that visit every year have begun to alienate locals and pose a threat to the local culture. Tourists have also been victims of theft in moderate numbers as well, so please keep your wallets close, people.
15 Mexico City, Mexico - Shunned
This major, sprawling city is the most populous in North America and has been facing even larger numbers in recent years because of the increase in tourism. There are hundreds of sights across the city worth a visit and the city has rightfully gained international respect as a destination for people across the world.
However, it is certainly not the most welcoming of places in the world, so it’s been a bit of a strange transition period as the city has slowly settled into hosting tourists from all over the world.
14 Venezuela - Banned
Venezuela has got some problems right now. Since the reign of Hugo Chávez, the country has fallen into extreme poverty and has been on the verge of a war for years now. Riots aren’t an entirely uncommon occurrence nowadays, making the area truly dangerous for tourists.
However, tourists aren’t really even allowed at the moment. If you’re set on Venezuela, you’ll probably have to wait for a couple of years to take in the exquisite beauty of this nation.
13 Moscow, Russia - Shunned
The troubles start quickly for anyone from America wanting to travel to Russia. The country requires entry visas for U.S. passport holders in order to even enter the country, but once there, you can visit several beautiful cities with some of the most unique, gorgeous architecture in the world and some deep history.
However, the country can certainly be cold to outsiders—literally and figuratively. While tourism holds up a decent amount of Moscow’s economy, they aren’t always warmly welcomed.
12 Australian Outback - Shunned
Going for a Walkabout in the Australian Outback is one of the most intense and coveted tourism journeys you can take. It’s certainly a major ordeal due to extreme heat, evil wildlife, and indigenous peoples that don’t really want tourists in their home.
While an increase in the number of outsiders has certainly brought in more income, it’s not always worth the price for locals who deeply value the natural beauty of their homeland, as they certainly should.
11 Emperor's Tomb, China - Banned
The clay soldiers found in Qin Shi Huang’s tomb have been shipped all over the world, featured in hundreds of art exhibitions. While much of the tomb has been excavated and explored, it has never really been available for the general public to visit. Not to mention, the central tomb has never been opened.
If you’re looking to visit this ancient tomb, you’re probably going to need a degree in Chinese History and Archeology. Otherwise, you’re pretty much out of luck.
10 Oxford, England - Shunned
Oxford is one of the most historically and academically important places in the entire world and gets the tourist influx that stacks up to its name. Lately, many locals have been pushing back against the rude wave of non-locals.
Even the Lord Mayor Mary Clarkson (coolest job title in the world?) has called it a ‘tourist hell’. The city’s infrastructure just isn’t built to handle much in the way of tourism and lately, it’s been showing.
9 Bolivia - Shunned
Recently voted the ‘least friendly country in the world,’ Bolivia isn’t the biggest fan of outsiders. There is certainly a lot worth seeing in the country such as Lake Titicaca and the massive salt flats, not to mention the capital city of La Paz. Of course, it will be a complicated visit since travelers aren’t particularly welcome throughout much of the country. You should be fine for the most part, but don’t expect too many favors.
8 Rio De Janeiro, Brazil - Shunned
Littering the mountainous landscape of Rio De Janeiro lie many favelas, which have begun to gain some traction in tourism. For fairly cheap, tourists can travel with a guide through a select handful of these colorful neighborhoods.
However, the reasoning behind the distinctive layouts is largely due to economic turmoil, therefore making them out to be a beautiful tourist attraction is a complicated prospect.
Many of the locals don’t take kindly to tourists, and for good reason.
7 Kho Khai Islands, Thailand - Banned
The scattered island chains and coves of Thailand are instantly recognizable and have given the country a major boost in tourism in recent years. However, the massive increase in tourism has caused devastation to the ecosystems in the Kho Khai Islands.
In order to allow the ecosystem to recover and to develop stronger conservation methods, Thailand has indefinitely prohibited tourists from entering Kho Khai Islands except for specific and incredibly strict guided tours throughout the National Park.
6 Santorini, Greece - Shunned
The bleached white homes layered throughout the hilly seaside of the Cyclades are a world-famous destination. Unlike anywhere else in the world, this town has been experiencing over 10,000 tourists a day over the past several years.
That is, until they limited incoming tourists to 8,000 a day just last year. It seems that, despite the economic turmoil of the country, the influx of tourists has simply become too much for the small seaside hub to handle.
5 Brazilian Rainforest - Banned
Large swaths of the Brazilian Rainforest are accessible to travelers willing to go through some trouble to get through it. However, there are quite a few spots that are either almost entirely inaccessible due to the natural difficulties of traversing through it while other areas are prohibited by the Brazilian government in order to protect the indigenous peoples in these spots.
Lately, scientists, adventures, and chefs alike have been working to understand more of the diverse wildlife in certain sections of the rainforest.
4 Saudi Arabia - Shunned
Who needs tourism? Not Saudi Arabia, according to their government. This oil-rich country has kept tourism artificially limited for decades, requiring tourists to not only acquire a visa, but also require a sponsorship by a legal resident or citizen of the country.
Of course, Saudi Arabia is a major destination for Muslims across the world because of Mecca, it hasn’t really embraced tourism outside of that. If you’re looking to even get into Saudi Arabia, you better start doing your research as soon as possible.
3 Okinoshima, Japan - Banned
Japan is full of islands with strange populations and rituals, one of which has more cats than people, another that only allows high-ranking Shinto priests and the royal family.
Okinoshima island is famous for only allowing select men onto the island. As far as anyone knows, no woman has even set foot on the island. There is only one permanent resident on the island and any visitors (of which there are very few) must ‘purify’ themselves in the nearby sea before entering.
2 Scandinavia - Shunned
This affluent, naturally beautiful part of the world has recently begun to show signs of annoyance towards the increasing flocks of tourists. The extreme increase of Scandinavian cruises has had a massive impact on the day-to-day lives of the locals.
Many small towns have even experienced increases in tourism that don’t really have any infrastructure in place to handle tourists. Towns of just hundreds are being seen by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.
1 Shanghai, China - Shunned
China is one of those ambiguous countries that is highly modern, yet equally traditional. This dichotomy has put the country’s tourism industry in a strange spot. While they’ve made some pretty high-profile strides towards becoming a tourist locale (like the Olympics), there has certainly been some pushback. Not all locals are particularly welcoming of tourists, even in the major cities like Shanghai.
There will certainly be a plethora of things for you to do in the city, but don’t expect a warm smile from everyone.
References: Fodor’s, The Culture Trip, Insider