Stop selfies: when photographing a (tourist) place can become a crime

Choose the type of trip and the destination; how we will get around, what attractions or communities we will visit; where we will stay or in which restaurants we will eat are options that determine the final result of any journey.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
15 March 2023 Wednesday 23:27
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Stop selfies: when photographing a (tourist) place can become a crime

Choose the type of trip and the destination; how we will get around, what attractions or communities we will visit; where we will stay or in which restaurants we will eat are options that determine the final result of any journey. Today the traveler has infinite sources of inspiration before him: the traditional agencies, guides or brochures coexist with social networks, movies or television series, turned into a huge showcase and a subscriber with enormous influence.

Instagram continues to be the most popular place Internet users go when looking for ideas for new experiences during their travels, according to the Experiences Traveler 2023 report, recently published by the tourism consultancy Phocuswright in collaboration with Arival. The study, based on a survey of more than 4,000 adults from the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, reveals, however, that TikTok is growing whole. At the end of last year, one in four adults under 35 and one in five up to 55 years of age consulted declared that they were already using TikTok for this purpose, which will undoubtedly condition the future strategy of the sector.

Beyond the inspirational factor, social networks are very present during trips. Proof of this is that only 17% of those surveyed by Phocuswright under the age of 55 state that they would agree to participate in a vacation experience without publishing anything about it. And it is that the number of people who choose their destinations conditioned by the repercussion that their publications will have on the internet has not stopped growing in recent years. In other words, the satisfaction of the like is a factor that weighs -and a lot- in decision making.

However, not everything is worth a like. There are places in the world where photographs should not be taken; not because there is an explicit order in this regard, but simply because of a matter of bad taste or lack of respect. It would be the case of a Holocaust memorial or a concentration camp, to give an example. But there are other tourist spots where selfies are explicitly prohibited, so breaking the rule can lead to serious problems, as well as a penalty.

The ParrotPrint photography portal details seven places around the world, -some unsuspected- in which, for reasons of security, religion or in order to preserve them from the masses, they do not allow visitors to take selfies.

It is not the entire city, far from it, but New York has put a stop to the photographs in some tourist spots. One of them can be especially surprising to outsiders, since the New York State Assembly has prohibited taking a selfie with tigers that are housed in zoos or that participate in shows and circuses since 2014. The veto, which is only limited to big cats, also contemplates the impossibility of hugging, caressing or touching them. Violating the order could cost the violator $500 in fines.

The incalculable value of the British crown jewels has led the authorities to prevent them, also for security reasons -but in this case of a different nature-, from being photographed by the general public. The Jewel House, the vault that houses such a treasure in the Waterloo Block of the Tower of London, is equipped with more than a hundred cameras and a team of guards who monitor the movements of visitors at all times and prevent snapshots. The rest of the spaces do not have limitations.

A sign in front of Garoupe beach, the most famous sandy area east of Cap d'Antibes, on the Côte d'Azur, tells tourists the rules that apply to the beach. One of them is the ban on taking selfies in summer, during the high season. The authorities justify the decision as a way to protect the place from the masses, thus preventing the publication on social networks from generating a pull effect and losing its charm.

The Saudi government intends to protect Islam's holiest sites by preventing photographs, considering they could be disrespectful. They argue that capturing images with a mobile phone or camera alters the tranquility required in a space of these characteristics, especially during the celebration of religious acts. In 2017, controversy broke out after the publication of a snapshot by an Israeli of Russian origin that pointed to an inscription in Hebrew inside the Prophet's Mosque in the city of Medina. This led to the closure of this temple and the facilities in Mecca.

The City Council of the Navarrese capital publishes annually the regulations that establish the prohibitions and sanctions for non-compliance during the running of the bulls during the Sanfermines. Among them are drunkenness and photography, or recording videos during the tour for obvious security reasons. Skipping the indications can lead to fines starting at 750 euros.

"Forbidden to use a selfie stick" This is one of the most surprising limitations of the West Japan Railway Company, also known as JR West, the railway company that operates in the west of the country. The rule has been introduced after warning passengers that overhead wiring could cause electrocution if it comes into contact with the stick. It is not the only place in the world where the use of this utensil is prohibited, there are many places where they are not well accepted, but, without a doubt, this is unique.

We end this short list with a new place in the United States, although this time, located on the Pacific coast. And it is that as in New York, California prevents selfies from being taken in the Lake Tahoe region. The reason is none other than the presence of a large number of wild bears in the area and the authorities' fear of personal injury, since tourists often get dangerously close to these mammals.