Written by Gabbi Shaw

The 20 most horrifying things tourists have done recently

Tourists are often considered an obnoxious and intrusive bunch, but some are so bad they make international headlines.

From damaging hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of art while taking a selfie to causing flight delays by throwing coins into a plane's engine for good luck, there's been no shortage of tourist faux pas over the past few years.

Keep reading for the worst tourist horror stories as of late.

Madeline Diamond contributed to a previous version of this article.


Two French tourists could face jail time after trying to take home 40kg of sand from the Italian island of Sardinia.

While sand doesn't seem like it's the most popular souvenir, according to environmental scientist Pierluigi Cocco, tourists taking sand home is one of the two most pressing threats to the beaches of Sardinia - the other is erosion.

Two French tourists filled 14 plastic bottles with sand from Chia, a beach on the southern coast of Sardinia. The BBC reported that the two were caught with the contraband while they were trying to get on a ferry back to France.

According to an Italian newspaper, they were charged with "theft under aggravated circumstance" which can carry a sentence between one and six years of jail time. Sand theft has been illegal since 2017, though the couple is claiming that they didn't know it was against the law, CBS News reported.


An American tourist was reportedly hospitalized after falling from a statue in Italy during a night out drinking with friends.

A 23-year-old American was reportedly rushed to the hospital in Turin, Italy.

La Repubblica reported that at around 1 a.m., after a night spent drinking at a brewery, a group of tourists stopped at the Piazza Bodoni, where one of them climbed on the horse statue - potentially to take a selfie.

According to Torino Today he underwent brain surgery in the afternoon for life-threatening injuries.


An American man visiting the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland was charged with attempting to steal a piece of the historic train tracks.

On March 31, an American visitor to Auschwitz, one of the most well-known death camps from World War II, allegedly attempted to steal a piece of the metal train tracks leading into the camp. Many of the 1.1 million people who died inside its gates were transported to the camps via train.

AP reported that the tourist was charged with "attempted theft of an item of cultural importance," which can result in 10 years in prison.


An Indonesian court sentenced a British tourist to six months in prison for slapping an immigration official last year.

Sky News

British tourist Auj-e Taqaddas was sentenced to six months in an Indonesian prison for slapping an immigration official after she missed her flight, back in July 2018. The incident was even recorded, and went semi-viral.

Taqaddas was filmed slapping the officer across the face at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia. She was upset that she had missed her flight to Singapore after having to pay Indonesian authorities a fine for overstaying her visa for 160 days, The Jakarta Post reported.

Taqaddas failed to appear in court twice before authorities finally located her in a shopping mall. She was subsequently sentenced to six months in jail for assaulting the officer.


A family travelling around New Zealand had its visas revoked after wreaking havoc throughout the country, including threatening tourists, stealing, and ruining a motel room.

Tim Clayton/ Getty

A British family of 12 has been terrorising the people of New Zealand for a month as they travel throughout the country. For starters, two children from the family were caught on camera stealing a Christmas tree while shopping at a convenience store. The family also allegedly refused to pay for meals at several restaurants, claiming there were bugs in their food and drinks. The behavior is said to have continued in their motel, as staff accused the family of throwing cigarette butts, beer cans, and even spaghetti on the floor. Staffers said the room "smelt like kid's poo" and took hours to clean.

It doesn't end there, though. At Takapuna Beach, the family is accused of littering, throwing beer, baby wipes, and chips on the beach. When a local confronted the family, they allegedly threatened violence.

After another unruly incident at a Burger King, the New Zealand government revoked the family's visas, forcing all 12 of them to leave the country within 28 days.


An 18-year-old visitor to the Denver Art Museum was arrested after vandalising several pieces of art.

Denver Art Museum

In December 2018, an 18-year-old named Jake Siebenlist was arrested by the Denver authorities after allegedly going on a rampage and destroying 10 pieces of art. According to officials, he was "not in a state of mind that was reasonable." Some of the art destroyed potentially dated back to the second century.

The incident was caught on surveillance footage and turned over to the police, officials noting this incident was "without precedent" at the museum.

"Every object for us has a cultural value that is enormous. Our conservators are stellar and I am very confident that they will be able to conserve and restore hopefully most of the objects," museum director Christoph Heinrich told AP News.


Egyptian authorities are investigating a photo that appears to show a Danish couple having sex on top of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Egyptian authorities are investigating after Andreas Hvid, a Danish photographer, released a NSFW photo of himself in which it looks as though he scaled the Great Pyramid of Giza with a woman, stripped naked, and posed as if they were having sex. He also posted a video of him and a woman appearing to climb the pyramid and explore.

The photo has since been deleted, but has been re-shared on social media - and the video of the duo allegedly climbing is still up.

Climbing the pyramids are illegal, and Egypt is a strictly conservative Muslim country. Egyptian authorities are now determining whether or not the photo and video are authentic. Hvid, for his part, denies that he had sex atop the monument, but does admit to climbing it.

"The prosecution authorities will tell Egyptians how the two tourists were able to scale the Great Pyramid of Khufu, whether the video is real or fake, and negligent officials will be brought to justice," said Egyptian antiquities minister, Khaled al-Anani.


Tourists knocked over an entire wall of art by Francisco Goya and Salvador Dalí in a Russian art museum while trying to take a selfie.

On October 27, a group of women at the International Arts Center Main Avenue in Yekaterinburg, Russia, attempted to take a selfie with the works of famed artists Francisco Goya and Salvador Dalí, knocking over an entire wall in the process.

According to TASS, a Russian news agency, "Goya's work had its frame and glass broken. As far as Dalí's artwork is concerned, apart from shattered frame and protective glass, it also suffered damage to the picture itself." The whole thing was caught on camera.

While people are understandably upset, the Yekaterinburg police department is refusing to open a criminal case against the women, CNN reported.


Two tourists face up to 10 years in a Thai prison for spray-painting a brick wall from the 13th century.

On Thursday, travellers Brittney Schneider, from Canada, and Lee Furlong, from the United Kingdom, found a can of spray paint on the side of the road in northern Bangkok. The two were inebriated and decided to vandalize the nearest wall - which happened to be the Tha Pae Gate, a popular tourist attraction that dates back to the 13th century.

The two were found within a week because of surveillance footage and were immediately taken to jail. Their bail, which their families paid, was set at 149,000 baht, or roughly R100,000. While free on bail, they must stay in Thailand until their trial is completed. They are each facing up to a decade in prison.

Schneider doesn't believe she deserves prison time. She told the radio show "Edmonton AM" that she deserves "a big fine definitely, but I don't think I deserve prison for this."


A group of teens pushed a rock off a crag at Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire, England, causing irreparable damage to a landmark that's millions of years old.

According to the North Yorkshire Police, a group of five young people were seen pushing a rock off a crag at Brimham Rocks, a National Trust site in North Yorkshire, England, that dates back millions of years. The rock formation has been shaped by centuries of wind, rain, and ice.

"The incident has not only caused considerable damage to both the rock and the crag face, but those responsible also put themselves in danger and have created a potential hazard for other visitors to Brimham Rocks," the police said.


A tourist damaged an 800-year-old museum artifact just so he could take a photo of his kid.

One family in the UK disregarded museum rules (and common sense) when they placed their baby inside an ancient artifact for a photo-op.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, the family placed the child inside an 800-year-old sandstone coffin, which caused it to fall off its stand.

While the incident only caused about R2,000 worth of damage, the disregard for historical preservation for the sake of a photo is priceless.

Read more here.


A woman slapped an airline gate agent after she was told check-in had closed for her flight.

Traveling can be frustrating, but there's no excuse for getting violent with airline staff. However, a passenger on an AirFrance flight flying from Wuhan, China, to Paris was captured in June 2017 on a security camera slapping a gate agent after learning that she had missed check-in for her flight.

The passenger told airline staff she had an important conference to attend, according to the South China Morning Post. She was subsequently arrested and blacklisted from future AirFrance flights.


A woman shattered a piece of art worth R12m while taking a selfie — and made the exhibit shut down for three days.

Artist Yayoi Kusama's mind-bending exhibit "Infinity Mirrors" is undoubtedly photo-worthy. However, one tourist in Washington, DC, took a selfie too far and severely damaged a piece of art in the exhibition.

The exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum was closed for three days after a visitor broke a glass pumpkin, causing an estimated $800,000 (R12m) worth of damage, according to The New York Times.


A tourist threw a glove at a member of the Queen's Guard in London just to mess with him.

Members of the Queen's Guard are known for their stoic disposition. But one tourist decided to try to get a reaction out of a guard by throwing her glove at him.

She was quickly reprimanded by another type of guard, called a Beefeater, as shown by a video posted on YouTube.

"The army's here to protect the crown jewels. He is not here for the public to make fun of," he said. The Beefeater returned the woman's glove before the disrespectful tourists went on their way.

Read more here.


A shopper in China fainted after breaking a bracelet worth R700,000 in a jewellery shop.

A woman shopping in a jewellery store in southwest China was in for an expensive surprise when she accidentally broke a jade bracelet priced worth R700,000.

The woman tried on the bracelet but quickly started taking it off after she was told the item's hefty price tag. She subsequently dropped the bracelet, breaking it in half. Even though the shop's staff tried to calm the woman, she fainted in response to the incident, according to the BBC.

The shopper and the jewelry-store owners were negotiating for an appropriate compensation, but had not come to an agreement as of June 2017.


A woman in Los Angeles destroyed R3m worth of art while taking a selfie.

This cringe-worthy video of a selfie gone wrong, captured on a security camera, has racked up nearly 7 million views on YouTube.

The incident took place at an installation by artist Simon Birch at The 14th Factory in Los Angeles. The installation, called "Hypercaine," featured a display of delicate crowns on pedestals.

The video shows a woman crouching down to take a selfie in front of the art and subsequently knocking over an entire column of pedestals, apparently causing $200,000 (R3m) worth of damage.

Read more here.


An airline passenger threw a coin into a plane's engine for good luck, causing her flight to be delayed.

While many people are superstitious about flying, most don't react by damaging the airplane they're about to board.

A passenger flying from Shanghai to Guangzhou, China, caused her flight to be delayed after she threw coins into the plane's engine for good luck.

Mechanics recovered nine coins from the area, including one inside the engine. While the coins did not seriously damage the plane, they could have been detrimental if they'd been sucked in by the engine, as reported by the South China Morning Post.

Read more here.


Tourists killed a baby dolphin in Spain while trying to take a selfie with it.

Tourists on a beach in southern Spain were responsible for the death of a baby dolphin in August 2017. Many were seen taking photos with the animal and taking it out of the water.

Rescue crews arrived on the scene about 15 minutes after the dolphin was first spotted, but it was too late, according to Travel + Leisure.

Tourists were seen blocking the dolphin's blowhole in photos, which could have contributed to its death. Equinac, an animal rescue organization, posted on Facebook about the incident, saying that crowding around animals causes shock and respiratory failure.


Tourists in Thailand were arrested for taking nude photos at a historic temple.

Two tourists from the United States were arrested in Thailand after taking nude photos at the Wat Arun temple in Bangkok, according to The Telegraph.

The men travelled around the world posting nude photos on their now-deleted Instagram account, "Traveling Butts," including at the historic temple in Bangkok.

After posting the photo, the tourists were detained, fined for public indecency, and blacklisted from returning to the country.


A man purposely kicked and destroyed a thousands-of-years-old stalagmite in a cave in China.

A man traveling in China's Guizhou province was in a group of tourists taking photos of a cave in Songtao county when he kicked a nearly 50cm stalagmite several times, according to the South China Morning Post.

A video posted on YouTube shows the man deliberately kicking the rock formation until it falls over, destroying something that likely took thousands of years to form naturally.

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