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Those Damn Tourists

Those Damn Tourists

There are people upset that very popular destinations, especially in Europe (Florence, Dubrovnik, Barcelona, Pompeii, Venice, Prague) are being despoiled and overrun by tourists and foreign investment. (Often the people protesting the tourists are tourists doing so from that city!) I certainly found this to be true in Venice, where once you saw families and children in courtyards, you now see closed homes occupied only briefly each year by foreign owners.

But just as we have a condescendingly way of demanding that developing countries don’t partake of the same power sources and environmentally questionable practices of more developed countries—as if they should be penalized because we got their first—we have no right to demand that cities and their historic significance be denied today to people who have never seen them. The problem may be that people expect to see somehow “authentic” history (I don’t know what that means) and not see other tourists—like themselves.

Venice was still impressive, the history and learning are still there, the local merchants need the business. All we need is yet another Big Brother telling us we can’t travel here, can’t go there, are restricted by this or that. We crawled around the hillside of the Acropolis with a thousand other visitors. That didn’t spoil my learning or wonder at what the ancient Greeks accomplished.

If you don’t want to stand in lines, go to places more remote. If you want to visit places of huge historic significance, be prepared to deal with a lot of other people like you from all over the world who want to do exactly the same thing. Why deny them just because you’ve already seen it or, worse, object to the crowds?

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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