Imagine hordes of influencers striking funny poses or doing dance moves in front of a Buddhist temple. The scene may sound funny, but it’s no laughing matter for the Nepalese authorities. So much so that TikTokers are now banned from many heritage sites across the country.
In the last few years, new signs have appeared at Nepalese tourist sites, such as the famous Boudhanath Stupa or the Gadhimai Temple, saying “No TikTok.”
These signs are intended to discourage the many influencers who go to these heritage sites to film videos for the Chinese social network.
Sanuraj Shakya, a spokesperson for the Lumbini Development Trust, which manages the Lumbini shrines, sees this ban as a way to ensure the serenity of the thousands of Buddhists who visit this sacred site every year.
“We have banned TikTok-making in and around the sacred garden, where the main temples are located,” he told Rest of the World magazine.
“Making TikTok by playing loud music creates a nuisance for pilgrims from all over the world who come to the birthplace of Gautama Buddha.”
The same rule applies to the Boudhanath Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kathmandu. This high place of Buddhism is besieged, from dawn, by hundreds of devotees who stroll around, always in a clockwise direction.
And recently they have been joined by influencers, who have come to shoot videos. To discourage the TikTokers, the Boudhanath management committee installed surveillance cameras at the site in March 2021. A dozen security agents are also carrying out patrols to ensure that TikTokers respect the rules.
When social networks harm biodiversity
This change in attitude towards TikTokers contrasts with the great popularity of the social network in the small Himalayan state. Two-thirds of Nepalese people over the age of 18 use it regularly, according to a report by Sharecast Initiative Nepal, cited by the Nepal Times.
This is significantly lower than YouTube (94%) and Facebook (93%), even if the platform is increasingly used in the country.
Nepal isn’t the only destination to find fault with the behavior of some TikTokers and content creators. The Jackson Hole Tourism Office in Wyoming, for example, asked its visitors in 2018 to stop geotagging the photos they post on social networks, in order to help preserve the state’s forests and lakes.
This threatens the biodiversity of Jackson Hole’s mountainous terrain and puts a strain on the tourism board’s financial resources.
“We want people to have a real connection to nature,” said Brian Modena, one of the leaders of the Jackson Hole tourism board, told the New York Times in 2018, “not just a page with a pin on it.”