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Overrun by Influencers, Historic Sites Are Banning TikTok Creators in Nepal

They come in hordes, strike funny poses, dance to loud music, trample over crops, and often stir up unmanageable crowds that cause traffic jams. TikTok creators in Nepal have earned a reputation for disrespecting religious and historic places in their quest to create viral videos, and are now facing a backlash. Over the last two years, several prominent tourist and religious sites in Nepal have erected “No TikTok” signs to keep creators from shooting at the premises.

These sites include the Buddhist pilgrimage site Lumbini, Kathmandu’s famous Boudhanath Stupa, Ram Janaki Temple in Janakpur, and Gadhimai temple in Bara, among others. According to authorities, officials keep a close eye at these places and rule-breakers are warned or asked to leave. “Making TikTok by playing loud music creates a nuisance for pilgrims from all over the world who come to the birthplace of Gautama Buddha,” Sanuraj Shakya, a spokesperson for the Lumbini Development Trust, which manages the shrines in Lumbini, told Rest of World. “We have banned TikTok-making in and around the sacred garden, where the main temples are located.”

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Killing tourist destinations for an Instagram photo

Overtourism is taking a toll across the globe, with closures of popular destinations in Thailand and the Philippines, and backlash from residents in cities like Venice and Barcelona. Closer to home, places like Bali, Byron Bay and parts of Tasmania have also been feeling pressure from skyrocketing visitors.

“The problem we’ve got is that we’re all congregating on the same places at the same time of the year,” says Justin Francis, CEO of the UK-based Responsible Travel.

Mr Francis says part of the problem is that the “ethos of travel” is changing: in the social media era, it’s now more about “where you want to be seen”. “Getting the photo and getting it on Instagram or Facebook is becoming the purpose of the trip — it’s the reason for going,” he says.

Travellers have also been drawn to places from their favourite films or TV shows, in a trend known as “set jetting”.

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