Tourism rebounded in 2023 after a depressed few years thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, but all the glamour of travel brought with it some ugliness, and much of it was caught on camera and made headlines.
Travel grew this year, with AAA reporting in April that international trips had increased more than 200% compared to the same period in the previous year. A survey in August found that 49% of Americans wanted to travel more, which resulted in the summer and winter travel periods hitting new highs and even exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
The desperation to travel followed two years of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions that were followed by vaccination requirements that continued to make it difficult to travel. People have finally been able to travel, but all those pent-up frustrations and expectations have resulted in incidents around the world.
Here are a few examples of the worst travel stories to make headlines from the past year.
Massive brawl breaks out on popular Spanish tourist ‘Sin Street’
Video captured by local Spanish outlet CEN showed fighting along a popular tourist street in the Catalonian city of Sitges early on July 23 as men attacked each other with anything they could get their hands on, like barstools, glass bottles and metal bars, to name a few.
The cause of the fight remained unknown despite an investigation by the Catalan region’s main police force, Mossos d’Esquadra, but the leading explanation was that a disagreement with a bouncer quickly escalated.
The violence lasted for about a minute before those involved tried to flee the scene, the Mirror UK reported. Around 30 to 40 people were allegedly involved in the brawl. Two police officers suffered dislocated joints, another had cuts after a glass bottle hit them. No arrests were made, and no suspect was identified as the instigator.
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The street, officially known as Primer de Maig Street, is lined with bars and restaurants. It serves as a popular destination for British tourists, but it remains unknown whether any of those involved in starting the fight or escalating it were British.
American tourist forced to apologize in Thailand after blowing marijuana smoke on crowded street
American tourist Angkhan Vorac Chhieng was caught on video using a “Ghostbusters-style weed blower” to smoke out a crowd of people on a busy street in Phuket, Thailand, according to a report from ViralPress.
Video footage shows the tourist blowing what was reportedly cannabis smoke at pedestrians in the area. The video was widely circulated online, sparking an investigation by the Phuket Provincial Police.
“Sorry, I’d like to apologize to Phuket. I love Thailand. It was a misunderstanding,” the American said.
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The police also issued a statement apparently indicating they intended to ban Chhieng from reentering the country.
Yellowstone tourist gets scare of her life while attempting to pet bison
Video shows a tourist attempting to pet a bison that was grazing by a pathway on May 20 after a group approached the animal to take selfies.
When the woman reached out to pet the big bovine, she got quite the scare. The bison lowered its head and lunged at her with its horns. The animal snagged the tourist’s sweater as she scrambled to get away, but she managed to break loose and appeared unharmed.
The incident shows exactly why people should not get too close to wild animals, according to Zoo Miami ambassador Ron Magill. Yellowstone authorities say visitors to the park should stay at least 25 yards away from bison for their own safety. But Magill suggested that some people ignore the guidelines in pursuit of likes on social media.
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“They’re taking their phones out. They’re trying to pose. They’re turning their backs to a wild animal. I don’t know what they’re thinking,” Magill told Fox Weather. “Now, the calving season comes along, the females are going to be very protective of their calves.”
Tourist filmed carving name on wall at Rome’s ancient Colosseum
A video surfaced in July of a teenage girl from Switzerland carving the letter “N” into a wall of the nearly 2,000-year-old structure, as was first reported by local media outlet ADN Kronos. In the video, the girl is seen with her face blurred out as a crowd is heard clapping off-camera.
“After a few seconds, my group applauded me. To her, in English, I said, ‘Do you want applause?’ The young girl understood that she had ended up in the crosshairs of those who protect art and turned away to go toward her family,” Battaglino said.
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The incident happened just weeks after a British tourist, 31-year-old Danailov Dimitrov, was caught defacing the ancient building in a video. A viral video shows Dimitrov carving a wall with the name of his fiancée: “Ivan+Haley 23.”
Mexico tourist whacked with stick, heckled after climbing sacred pyramid
Video from February caught an unidentified tourist from Poland who ran up the steps of the Kukulkan pyramid in Mexico’s Chichén Itzá archeological site, a move that’s frowned upon by the local populace.
A bystander attacked the tourist with a stick while Mexican officials led the offender away and yelled at him, “Are you stupid?”
The director of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) told the Mexico Daily Post that the tourist was fined 5,000 pesos ($263) for the incident and was released after a 12-hour stint in custody.
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“Tourists must respect the security measures of the INAH in the archeological zone to preserve the cultural heritage of Mexico, take care of other visitors and enjoy that Mayan legacy,” INAH Director José Arturo Chab Cárdenas said.
American in custody after allegedly shoving 2 women, killing 1, near German castle
Perhaps the most upsetting and shocking incident this year involved the murder of a tourist near the Marienbruecke bridge near Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.
The 30-year-old man met the two American women, ages 21 and 22, on a hiking path and lured them onto a trail that leads to a viewpoint, police said.
“The younger of the two women was attacked by the suspect,” said police spokesperson Holger Stabik. “The older one tried to rush to her aid, was then choked by the suspect and subsequently pushed down a slope.”
The assailant then allegedly tried to sexually assault the 21-year-old before pushing her down the slope as well. She fell nearly 165 feet, ending up close to her friend. The suspect left the scene but was quickly arrested nearby.
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A mountain rescue team reached both women. The 22-year-old was “responsive” and taken to a hospital, where she remained overnight, police said. A helicopter carried the 21-year-old with serious injuries to a different hospital, and she died there overnight.
Fox News Digital’s Michael Lee, Chris Pandolfo, Bradford Betz and Andrew Mark Millar contributed to this report.