Who wins the ugly tourist stakes? Is it the Russians, the Israelis, the Americans? Us? Answer: none of the above. No single nationality stands out as the least loved tourists right around the globe because it depends who you're talking to. Russian tourists are not popular in Germany, but they're welcome in Jordan, Kuwait and the US. Brits are not flavour of anyone's month in most of continental Europe but anywhere else they're inoffensive.
UK-based market research and data analytics firm YouGov has crunched the numbers to find out just what 26 nationalities think of the others on the list when they come calling, with some surprising results. The one trend that seems to emerge is that a large number of tourists, and particularly when they come on the cheap, is not likely to engender warm and friendly thoughts.
Thus Brits are not loved in Spain, nor are Chinese tourists in Thailand and Vietnam. Saudi Arabian tourists are not fondly regarded throughout the Middle East, including in their own country. Here are some of the standout candidates for the world's most and least loved tourists (forgive the stereotyping).
When it comes to headline howlers, Chinese tourists are a gift to the media. They destroy art installations whilst taking selfies, attempt to prise open the aircraft door in mid-flight to get some fresh air, graffiti "Ding Jinhao was here" in Mandarin on the Temple of Luxor, and who can forget the guy who threw coins into the engine of the aircraft he was about to board, an act of self-sabotage rather than the offering to the God of Jet Engines he'd intended.
According to the YouGov statistics, Chinese tourists are vastly unpopular in the countries where they make up a large proportion of foreign visitors. Three-quarters of Singaporeans surveyed say Chinese are the worst tourists. In Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam around 40 per cent of locals say the same thing. Among Australians in the survey, around a quarter also fingered Chinese as the worst tourists.
Chinese tourists cause far less offence in Europe, where only around 10 per cent of the survey numbers name them among the worst tourists. The one exception is Denmark, where the figure is around 20 per cent. Given that Chinese tourists spend just 36 hours in Denmark on average and don't find Copenhagen quite as pulse-quickening as other European capitals, it seems they might be venting their displeasure.
To be fair, Chinese travellers made 150 million overseas trips in 2018. That's more than any other nation. If there were as many trips made by Brazilians or New Zealanders, the world would probably have reasons to groan. Also, they spend heaps. More per capita than just about any other nationality. Which explains why every nation around the globe is falling over itself to up their number of Chinese visitors.
Small in number, big in impact. They're the bears of travel, although for locals that seems to be "unbearable".
In Germany and Denmark, a third of those surveyed nominate Russians as the worst tourists and around a quarter of the other Nordic nationals say the same. However, in the rest of Europe they rate lower down on the scale of offensiveness. Apart from Egypt, where about 10 per cent of those surveyed rate Russians among the worst tourists, in the Middle East they feature low on the radar.
Who doesn't love the Japanese? They're polite, well behaved, rich, dress immaculately and they obey the rules. Their football fans clean stadiums after matches. For picky Singaporeans, Japanese are their best-loved visitors, at the opposite end of the spectrum from Chinese tourists. Same applies in Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Finland, France and Germany.
Right across the board, no country has Japanese tourists on its unwanted list. OK, they might have a weird fondness for V-sign poses in every photo, not to mention white gloves and surgical masks, but where's the harm?
Spectacularly unpopular in Germany. Toxic in Spain, where British tourists are synonymous with lobster-red sunburn, bald heads, tattoos, drunken and loutish behaviour and the smell of frying chips. But curiously, in France the British are welcomed while Russians and Saudi Arabian visitors are not.
Even more curious, British tourists are disliked even in their native land, where a quarter of those surveyed nominate their fellow countrymen among their least-favourite tribes. Brits also rate low on the self-regard scale. Close to 60 per cent have a negative opinion of British tourists when they're abroad. Less than a quarter believe foreigners have a positive impression of British tourists. That's lower than any other nationality of the 26 surveyed. Cue the violins, please.
Those loud voices, the white socks, the ever-present comparisons with the USA as the yardstick against which all foreign experiences are gauged. Not forgetting their preference for fast food and the puce-coloured beverage they call coffee and inflict on the civilised world.
So what though, it's all little stuff and it really shouldn't bother anyone – and doesn't, apart from the good folks in South America. Which shows you just how the world has changed. Once upon a time it was the Ugly American who was the most unloved traveller, probably because there were more of them than any other.
These days American tourists have faded into the background – and they're mostly polite, they tip like pros and only rarely do they drink to excess, disrobe and smash everything in sight.
Although not great in numbers, we can occasionally punch well above our weight to reach the gold standard for misbehaviour. We chug shoeys a la Daniel Ricciardo, wear thongs and T-shirts in temples and fancy restaurants and our fondness for boozing is legendary.
In Bali we get spectacularly wasted, smash up bars and assault strangers – all while having shed our clothes at some stage in the evening. Alone, we're affable, uncomplaining, we go with the flow and the world likes us. But when we form a pack, watch out.
See also: Bali targets Aussie tourists from hell
In Indonesia, only 14 per cent nominated Australians as among their favourite tourists while 7 per cent said we were the worst. In Vietnam, by contrast, 31 per cent of the survey population names Aussies as among their most liked tourists. In India we're at 28 per cent and throughout most of south-east Asia we're among the top three of the most liked.
In continental Europe, apart from Spain, where we score 12 per cent among the most favoured tourists, we're in single digits on the same list, but probably because we have a low profile relative to the huge number of European visitors. In Britain, 17 per cent say Aussies are among their best tourists.
We're also self-conscious about the way we behave overseas according to the data from YouGov. While 57 per cent of Australians have a positive impression of the way we behave when overseas, only one-third of us think the locals feel the same way. That's one of the lowest scores of any nationality for that category. Only Brits and Norwegians rate themselves less positively regarded when overseas.