Travelers not only need to be careful and protect themselves but they need to behave in accordance with the laws and customs of the destination country. Why? The consequences may turn your vacation into a nightmare.
Canings & Prison Time
For example, “In Singapore, which places a high value on order, prostitution is legal but careless disposal of chewing gun can invoke fines up to $500...Jaywalking and spitting result in similar fines. On the bright side, Singapore saves canings for more serious offences, such as vandalism, for which American teenager Michael Fay received a public lashing in 1994. Sensitivity to another country’s values (is important as) Ruff Nernekian, a Lebanese tourist visiting the United Arab Emirates learn...when he was arrested for wearing a skin cancer awareness T-shirt depicting Posh Spice in her birthday suit (for which Mr. Nernekian spent a month in jail...(and) Ireland, the land of creative invective, just passed a blasphemy law making out a 25,000 ($37,000) offense to say or print. anything ‘grossly abusive or insulting’ about said subject held sacred by any religion”[Doughtery, Lost in Translation, Conde Nast Traveler].
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
“After a spate of tourist deaths on the Nam Song River in Vang Vieng, Loas, authorities...have closed more than two dozen of the riverside and late-night island bars that are pit-stops for tubing tourists...floating down the Name Song River in a tractor-tyre innertube, stopping at the legion of jerry-built bars on the waterside for free shots of drugs, has become a popular pastime” [ETN (9/16/2012)]. “Drink camel milk instead of alcohol says Sudan Tourism Minister [ETN (March 25, 2013)]; “One Australian visitor dies in Bali every nine days” [ETN (8/12/2012) (“Consular officials say alcohol and drugs fuel many of the accidents, while nightclub fights are among the biggest causes of trouble for thousands of Aussies”)]. “Indonesia to execute British woman for drug smuggling” [ETN (August 29, 2013)]. “Brits behaving badly: 5400 arrested abroad last year” [ETN (July 18, 2013)].
“Kashmir has asked tourists visiting the Valley to desist from wearing skimpy clothes and warned them of an angry reaction if they failed to do so. ‘Some tourists, mostly foreigners, are seen wandering in short mini-skirts and other objectionable dresses openly which is against local ethos and culture’” [ETN (7/5/2012)]. Abu Dhabi has issued “flyers (that) provide guidelines to prevent tourists from getting into trouble with the law...It addresses issues such as physical displays of affections, attire, smoking, drinking or eating during Ramadan, respect for religious sites and occasions, attire for beaches” [ETN (7/5/2012)]. “No more bikinis and Speedos at UAE beaches” [ETN (April 25, 2013)]. “Turkish Airlines bans its flight attendants from wearing red lipstick” [ETN (May 1, 2013)].
Loud & Rude
“Chinese tourists urged to avoid embarrassing behavior [ETN (May 2, 2014)(Li Zhongguang of the China Tourism Academy believes it is time to have a global vision and think about the effects of their behavior on the world...’Chinese travelers abroad are seen as loud, rude, self-centered and lacking in self-discipline’, said Li. Zha Qizhi, deputy chief of China’s Sanqing Mountain resort in Jiangxi Province, agrees...Talking loudly in public spaces, spitting in the streets, ignoring the queue and carving names on ancient monuments are just as improper in China as anywhere else...’Chinese people are polite, hospitable and thoughtful hosts, and now they need to learn to be good guests’, he said”)].
Insulting Royalty And Religious Feelings
“In recent years, dozens of people have been convicted of insulting the king and his family. Among them are a Swiss man sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2007 for defacing posters of the kind; a naturalized American citizen convicted in 2011 for translating a banned biography of the king” [Fuller, In Thailand, a Broader Definition of Insulting Royalty”, N.Y. Times (January 17, 2013); “Two women and one man were detained in the southern town of Galle after a photographic laboratory alerted police. The pictures show the travelers posing with Buddha statutes and pretending to kiss one of them...Mistreatment of Buddhist images and artifacts is strictly taboo in the country” [ETN (8/2/2012)] [see also: “Indian mob attack leaves Russian tourist with horrific injuries [ETN (February, 27, 2014)(“A Russian tourist has been left with horrific injuries after he was allegedly beaten after offending locals when he rang a sacred religious bell”); “French tourists given jail terms in Sri Lanka for ‘insulting religious feelings’” [ETN (8/21/2012)]; “Bali demands stricter regulations for tourist visits to temples” [ETN (November 11, 2013)]; Hindu shrine cops beat up US tourist [ETN (6/25/2012)(“An American tourist was allegedly beaten by Jagannath temple security men while he was trying to climb Jagannath’s chariot on the second day of Rath Yatra”)].
Mistreating Local Animals
“China has drafted a law under when people convicted of eating endangered animals face jail time as the country takes steps to halt illegal hunting...Chinese law currently bans hunting endangered species without clearly addressing the legality of buying or consuming their meat” [ETN, China: You go to jail for eating pandas or monkeys” (April 23, 2014)]. “Foreigners visiting Thailand have been advised not to buy elephants’ tusks or any ivory products, even if it is something as small as an earring or a bracelet. Offenders might face arrest in Thailand” [ENT (March 13, 2013)].
Physical Displays Of Affection
In Dubai “A visitor was apprehended inside a courtroom immediately after a judge sentenced him to three months in jail for attempting to molest a tourist at a luxury hotel on Palm Jumeirah. The 45-year-old Indian visitor, D.K., was charged with attempting to hug the Indian female tourist in the hotel’s elevator” [ETN (March 17, 2014)].
“Chinese travel agents mist stop sending pregnant tourists to Saipan [ETN (September 9, 2013) (“US Government warning to the Chinese outbound travel industry. Eloy Inos, governor of the US Territory Saipan, told the Saipan Tribune that immigration agents had sent home about 20 so-called birth tourists in the last three to four months because of ‘documentation problems’. Why would the USA care?...Any child born in this string of 15 islands between the Philippines and Hawaii is eligible for U.S. citizenship, and in the past two years the number of women delivering babies here has jumped dramatically...Today, Saipan, the largest island, receives about eight charter flights a week from...Chinese cities...And many businesses cater specially to the maternity traffic. The operator of one Saipan guesthouse told Radio Free Asia that she hosted 50 Chinese mothers last year, charging them $11,000 for accommodations, travel, translation help and some medical are, though most also incurred around $10,000 in other medical bills”)].
Ten Laws Around The World
In 10 Super Weird Laws from Around the World (SmartTravel.com (12/15/2012) the following laws were mentioned which tourists should be aware of: Rome, Italy: eating and drinking near landmarks illegal; Dubai: sharing a hotel room outside of marriage illegal; Greece stiletto heels illegal; Netherlands: soft drugs like marijuana and hash illegal; Daytona Beach, Florida: spitting in public illegal; Venice, Italy: feeding the pigeons illegal; Canada: using more than 25 pennies in a transaction illegal; Singapore: chewing gum illegal.
The author, Justice Dickerson, has been writing about travel law for 38 years including his annually-updated law books, Travel Law, Law Journal Press (2014), and Litigating International Torts in U.S. Courts, Thomson Reuters WestLaw (2014), and over 300 legal articles many of which are available at www.nycourts.gov/courts/9jd/taxcertatd.shtml .
This article may not be reproduced without the permission of Thomas A. Dickerson.