Who’d have thunk it? Who’d have realised that getting groups of drunk tourists together and putting them in charge of a gigantic pedal-powered machine in the middle of a busy city with lots of canals would go badly? Who could have predicted that taking a bar full of people and setting them loose in public, with alcohol, would not be a success?
Well, everyone really. The only surprise is that it took the Amsterdam city council as long as it did to ban the “Beer Bikes” – the 12-seater rolling bars that drinkers could cycle around the city on while imbibing as much beer as they could handle. Amsterdam residents have been complaining about the bikes for years, with drinkers yelling and screaming, peeing in public, running into things on the giant bike.
But it was only at the beginning of this month that Beer Bikes were finally taken off the road.
This is not, of course, the first tourism idea that was bound for disaster. There have been plenty of other tourist-related schemes – some worth billions and billions of dollars – that have turned out to be total flops. The Beer Bike is just the latest in a long line. Here are some more of our favourites. The World, Dubai
Dubai is used to outlandish, daring success stories. It is used to world records. It is used to outrageous triumphs of the “if you build it, they will come” kind. So it would have come as a rude shock to find that “The World”, the huge group of manmade islands off the Dubai coast designed as luxury abodes for the rich and famous, islands that would resemble a map of the world from high above, was a complete and utter flop. So far, only three of the 300 islands have been developed into anything more impressive than a giant sandbank. This is a flub of epic proportions that, in the climate of mid-2000s financial pressure, always seemed bound for disaster.
See also: 20 things that will shock first-time visitors to DubaiTitanic II
Titanic II sank even quicker than the first one. Photo: Blue Star Line
n businessman Clive Palmer has come up with some pretty whacky ideas (ahem – running for parliament), but perhaps none more so than the plan to build a full-scale replica of the Titanic, the world’s most spectacularly unsuccessful maritime development. The Titanic II was announced by Palmer in 2012, was set to launch in 2016, was pushed back to 2018, and so far not a single rivet has been sunk in. Of course there’s something historically appropriate about this project turning into a disaster, which it seems to have here, without ever getting out of the dockyard. New South China Mall, China
Ghost town: New South China Mall. Photo: Alamy
China built it – and no one came. The idea was to construct the world’s largest shopping mall in Dongguan, near Guangzhou, and to that end the New South China Mall was a raging success. The mall has a total area of 892,000 square metres – that’s about 125 football fields’ worth of shops, restaurants and other mall amenities, including a replica Arc de Triomphe, a roller coaster, and a Venice-style system of canals. Small problem though: there are no shops. There are no restaurants. Precious few vendors ever signed up to the project, which means that rather than rating as a tourism drawcard like Dubai Mall, this enormous shopping precinct is pretty much a ghost town.
See also: 20 things that will shock first-time visitors to ChinaKhai islands, Thailand
Khai Nok. Photo: Alamy
Tourism fails aren’t always due to a lack of popularity. Sometimes disaster strikes for the exact opposite reason. Case in point: three Thai islands called Khai Nok, Khai Nui and Khai Nai, tropical havens that lie off the coast of Phuket. Mass tourism there has pretty much destroyed the surrounding coral reef (the entire reason people would go there in the first place), leading to Thai authorities banning tourists from certain parts of each island. Another island, Koh Tachai, has also been closed to tourists due to the environmental damage they’ve caused. Someone should have seen it coming.
See also: 20 things that will shock first-time visitors to ThailandPoseidon Hotel, Fiji
This sounds great on paper: an underwater hotel, a series of rooms and restaurants completely submerged in the warm waters of Fiji. The spectacular Poseidon Hotel was due to open in an undisclosed location in 2008. Now, however, almost 10 years later, there’s still no sign of the project actually going ahead, most probably because it would be extremely expensive and difficult to create. The Poseidon’s official website contains a lot of information about the hotel, most of it curiously written in the present tense – “Poseidon’s Mysterious Island is the culmination of every elite vacationer’s vision” – despite the fact there is actually no hotel. Still, you can register for advance reservations if you’re really optimistic. And patient.
See also: 20 things that will shock first-time visitors to FijiAmsterdam Beer Bike
As of November 1 this year, the Amsterdam Beer Bikes are no longer. Some tourism ideas seem great at the time, but then turn out to be disasters – this one, however, had calamity written all over it from the start. Who would set a whole lot of boozy tourists loose in a packed city on a giant bike and expect it to go well? It is a shame for the owners of the businesses, but hey, at least they didn’t create a series of 300 manmade islands and then have no one buy them.
See also: Why I won’t go back to Amsterdam’s coffee shops or sex shows
What are the biggest tourism fails you’ve seen around the world? What attractions do you predict will end in disaster? Post your comments below.
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