Wednesday 18 September 2019

Naked Tourists pose problem for heritage sites

Why are tourists taking their clothes off?

Amichay Rab, photographed in Chile. Photo:
Amichay Rab, photographed in Chile. Photo:
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA: Ta Prohm temple at Angkor Wat. Photo: John S Lander/LightRocket via Getty Images
The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Travel has always been about taking off. Taking off one's clothes at world heritage sites is a new development, however.

It appears to be a growing one too, as tourism officials at a range of heritage sites - including Cambodia's Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu in Peru - have taken steps to clamp down on the trend.

Authorities at Angkor Wat have gone so far as to draw up a code of conduct aimed at persuading tourists to keep their clothes on.

The action comes after several photos emerged showing foreign visitors posing in the nude at the temples. Those who strip for such photos are now facing arrest, fines and even deportation.

The Apsara Authority introduced its code after three French men were arrested for posing naked at one of the temples, and a Chinese model posed topless among the ruins last January.

“Common sense” rules about keeping clothes on and resisting the urge to touch the heritage monuments will be printed out and distributed to hotels and elsewhere, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

Naked photos have been taking off at Machu Picchu too... with Peruvian authorities pleading with tourists to resist the urge to streak.

Four US tourists were detained recently after posing for nude photos at the 15th century Inca citadel, according to the Peruvian Times.

One of the most high-profile naked tourists is Amichay Rob, an Israeli traveller who has photographed himself naked at memorable locations all over the globe - including Machu Picchu - posting them on his website,

Rob says his photos are not intended to cause offense.

"I did that in order to do something different and in order to have special memories of magical moments when I traveled.

"By the way, I am not a nudist."

Inca citadel of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu - keep your clothes on

When he shoots his pictures, Rob says, he makes sure that there is nobody else around that feels uncomfortable with his nudity... despite the fact that this makes the photographs difficult to take.

"When I do it, I don't think or believe that I am hurting somebody's feelings, otherwise I would not have taken the photos. Also, I treat the photos that I took as art and not as a disrespectful act."

Others disagree, however, pointing out that nudity in sites like Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu can be deeply offensive to locals... and other visitors.

Pornography actress Carmen De Luz posted an Instagram of herself with her buttocks bared on a camel at the Pyramids of Giza, for instance.

Although such tourists are a scant minority, one fear is that their growing notoriety (one YouTube video shows a couple running down the terraces of Machu Picchu in their birthday suits) could prompt a new wave of copycats.

As of yet, Irish heritage sites like Newgrange, Clonmacnoise and Skellig Michael have yet to report naked tourists, however.

"While the OPW welcomed over 4.4 million visitors to OPW-managed heritage sites in 2014, I can confirm that this is not an issue for our sites at present," a spokesperson confirmed.

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