There are many ways to be a good tourist and avoid causing any bother to local residents. If you live in a popular tourist destination, as I do, you will find that tourists can take over. But with a little consideration, it's possible to enjoy a vacation - and not at the expense of the locals. Here are some ways to be a good tourist and ensure that you don't annoy the residents …
1. Respect That People Live There
One of the best ways to be a good tourist is to respect that you are visiting a place where people live. It's not just a huge theme park for the benefit of tourists, and people don't live there just for your convenience. Residents help give a city its character and keep it a thriving place; no place can exist on tourism alone.
2. Don't Block Pavements
This is a particular bugbear among everyone I know in Barcelona. It takes ages to get through the city center because of the crowds of tourists blocking the streets and dragging their suitcases around. Do look where you're going and if you stop to take a photo ensure that you are not stopping people from getting past. You may be on vacation, but locals have to get to work, do their shopping and pick their kids up from school.
3. Support Local Businesses
Most people who live in a touristy area have a love/hate relationship with tourism. We understand why you want to visit; we live here because we like it. But sometimes we don't see much benefit from tourism. Support local businesses wherever you can, so that local people benefit from your visit.
4. Environmental Concerns
Large numbers of tourists place pressure on the environment and local services. Try to ensure that your visit makes the least possible impact by travelling by train wherever possible rather than car or plane. Also keep your use of services like water down; you might think that you're entitled to a long shower if you've paid for it, but with thousands of tourists doing that every day that is putting pressure on the water supply.
Of course you want to let your hair down and relax when you're on holiday. But most of the city isn't on vacation. Noisy tourists often keep people awake who have to go to work the next day. So whether you're in the street or in the apartment you've rented, keep noise to a minimum so that you don't disturb anyone, and be especially careful if you're in a group.
6. Behave Appropriately
Always be considerate to the feelings of locals and other visitors. Three Italians recently hit the headlines for running around Barcelona naked. This wasn't actually against the law until recently, but even if it were legal is not something that most people want to see in the street!
7. Don't Be Arrogant
Tourists can sometimes take the attitude that local residents should be grateful for the money they're spending and the jobs that tourism creates. That's pretty arrogant. Most tourism jobs are low-paid, and you should always be polite. People aren't paid to put up with rudeness.
Everybody needs a holiday, but you should always try not to have a negative impact on the residents. So always give some thought to being a considerate visitor, and your visit will be welcomed rather than dreaded. Do you live in a place that's popular with tourists, and how does it affect you?