Mainland tourists rampaging in Puerto Rico are unwelcome … and dangerous

The Guardian posted this report by Coral Murphy Marcos, of San Juan.

The combination of US residents wanting to escape the cold weather, cheap airline tickets and easing restrictions on the island has attracted tourists in droves. […]

Videos circulating on social media show aggressive tourists starting fights, disrespecting workers and local residents, and disregarding Covid-19 precautions, including not wanting to wear face masks and organize large gatherings as the influx of trips to the island continues.

Murphy Marcos also covered the local response.


Natalie B. Compton, travel writer for The Washington Post, offers a list of wonderful places for tourists to visit and things to do on the island. Compton also cautions readers to “treat the local community with respect.“Unfortunately, not everyone is listening.

Pictures and videos misbehaving visitors circulate regularly, with scantily clad tourists dancing suggestively on the streets and on beaches, leaving scooters and trash on sidewalks and violating the country’s coronavirus mitigation measures, demands of the mask to curfews.

“It’s sad,” says Israel Meléndez Ayala, originally from San Juan and writer and historian at the Puerto Rico State Historic Conservation Office. “This is the first time I’ve experienced it in Old San Juan, that kind of tourist with that sense of entitlement.”

Ayala, who has published articles on tourist behavior on his Twitter too, says he and his neighbors have had multiple encounters with travelers who refuse to follow mask protocols, curfews, or common courtesy standards in general.

Ayala is quick to cite the underlying causes of the lack of respect.


The video below features clip after clip of bad behavior and blatant disrespect.


The “American Ugly” is on full screen, so that everyone on the island can see it.

Brenda A. Vázquez Colon discusses yet another ugly (and expensive!) tourist problem for The weekly newspaper.

The disrespect of public order by some travelers in San Juan and other tourist areas is affecting the economy of small businesses, as traders have been forced to pay for private security services due to their aggressive behavior.

“To deal with inappropriate behavior, small and medium-sized businesses had to hire people for security when they could barely survive financially. Big chains can do it, but small ones can’t,” said Jesús Vázquez, President of United Retailers. Center (CUD by its Spanish acronym).

The situation is worsening, because beyond the inappropriate behavior of some tourists, many of these visitors now refuse to pay for their consumption. Ramón Leal, senior vice president of International Restaurant Services, Inc. (IRSI) and former president of the Restaurant Association of Puerto Rico (Asore, Spanish acronym), ensured that food establishments welcome visitors in groups who come consume and then refuse to foot the bill for alleged dissatisfaction with the quality of the food.

Susana, a nursing student in Puerto Rico, tweeted about the lunch and dinner situation.


She also touched on the racial component of the anger on the island. Most of the videos shown concern black tourists from the mainland, which has led some islanders to express their “internal racism”.

(Yes, there is racism in Puerto Rico.)


In the past, I visited the island frequently, staying with friends and family, and avoided most tourist areas. I’ve seen incidents like the ones islanders respond to – but they’ve never been so bad and are made worse by the COVID-19 curfew that islanders must obey, and tourists seem to be able to ignore.

If you know someone who is planning a trip to Puerto Rico for vacation, do Puerto Rico a favor. Tell them that if they are to go, they need to polish their best demeanor and respect the islanders.

Play this PSA simulacrum for them, offered as a “message to our tourists”.

And if they can’t do that, they should stay home.

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