Saturday, June 2, 2007

Breaking News, and it's GOOD!

Great news from the world of travel and tourdom! You've just read a vivid account of the Slovenian travelers' careful negotiation of the Slovene roads and traffic. Well, there's even BETTER news than that out there! In this week's New York Times Week in Review, Paul Vitello cheers American travelers to the skies with his assertion that there IS a ruder, more obstreperous group out there than the us. We've been notorious for our lack of sartorial splendor(gym shorts, dark socks and tennis shoes), non-knowledge of furrin' languages and outrage that They Do Things Different Over Here, etc., but our status as "ugly Americans" may now be SO September l0...

"Let it be said," Vitello writes, "that no group holds a monopoly on the title of “ugly.” Tip-stiffing, line-jumping, excessive price-haggling, sidewalk-blocking-when-stopping-suddenly-to-take-pictures-of-a-person-playing-the-steel-drums — none of these are unique to any national group.

Whatever. Is it time, at least, for retiring the term “ugly American” from the dictionary of foreign phrases?

The answer, according to experts in the rarified field of tourism anthropology, is a possible yes."

Mr. Vitello, just who or what has knocked us off this pedestal of shame?!

"Valene Smith, an anthropology professor at California State University at Chico who pioneered the academic study of tourism and travel in the 1970s, said that the tourists most likely to be deplored by their hosts these days are not the euro-rich Europeans or the British or the standard ugly Americans but the CHINESE. 'They have only been traveling widely in the last five years or so, but they are touring in numbers no one has seen before — by the thousands,' she said. 'They behave as they would at home — there is a lot of pushing and shoving. Very few speak languages other than Chinese.'

Last summer, in an incident widely discussed among travel experts, she said, 40,000 Chinese tourists descended on the small German city of Trier to visit the birthplace of Karl Marx. 'It was quite a mess,' Professor Smith said. 'No one was prepared ahead of time. The Germans were quite upset.'"

So let's hear a "halleujah," and send kudos to our fellow citizens of the mysterious East, for taking the burden of "world's most obnoxious tourists" from our American shoulders. Now you can look the world in the more slinking around and hiding that passport! Freedom is here!

1 comment:

mollydog said...

Yikes! I visited Marx's house in Trier a few years ago. Believe me, there is no room in there for anyone, let alone a tour group! Tight staircase and the top floor packed full of exhibits. Must have been fun. I could see how it would ruffle the "everything in its place" German feathers. (We're not big on spontaneity.) And as I recall, the extensive captions were just in German, not English and certainly not Chinese.