The International Writers Magazine: Tourism Issues
former student of mine called me the other day. You know
how you used to go on about The Death of Global Tourism
and how it will bring the world economy to a nasty halt? Well
I think it is happening'.
She had spent five hours in a line up to check in to get to the
States, a two and half hour wait to get to the passport control
in New York and then six hours in a room as she was
carded as being suspicious of wanting to stay. This
is a woman with a good career in banking in the UK. Respectable
and polite. A regular visitor to the States. She will never go
hear it every day now. How hostile and unwelcoming American customs
are to EVERYONE- no matter their colour or religion. I imagine it is
a tad worse if you also happen to be a Muslim or just look like
If I were a Disneyworld shareholder in the USA, or a hotel chain owner,
any resort or theme park owner, Id get nervous right about now.
Come October 2004 you cant go to the USA without being fingerprinted,
photographed and probably anally probed. The line-ups will be 10 hours
long and there is no guarantee they will let you in when you get there.
Ian McKewan the author was prevented from entering for gods sake
and he is hardly likely to blow up the White House. (although I am sure
he felt like it on the day).
It isnt just America that is heading down this paranoid dead end.
As of May 1st, people from 25 countries in Europe will be allowed to
come to the UK and any other EU country and if they so wish, work wherever
they want. Apparently every bus, plane and boat is booked solid for
the Ist and it will be like D-Day in reverse. (We shall watch the headlines).
A survey in Poland had that 47% of students at Universities in Poland
intended to leave their country when they graduated. (Source BBC
Radio4 Today Programme April 27.)
The UK reaction is one of fear right now because many people are afraid
that Poles, Slovaks and others will offer to do the jobs they are doing
for half the price and employers will grab them with glee. It wont
happen, but the fear is there.
Travel within Europe is going to be easier, but there will be tensions.
It may even get ugly if people in France or the UK feel that foreigners
are getting their jobs, homes, rights. Even if not true,
political parties of the extreme right will exploit this for political
gain in Euro elections this June 10th.
Everywhere else is tightening up regulations, applying restrictions
and all this is doing Al Qaedas work for them. Bin Laden and his
pals want us to live in a tense frightened world. They want people afraid
to fly because they dont know if they will be blown up. or rejected
by overzealous customs officers the other end. The want uncertainty
to rule and G W Bush is giving it to them wholesale. (We already hear
about English people with holiday homes in Florida panic selling because
a woman was jailed for overstaying her permit by 10 hours. They may
find it hard to sell. Canadians with homes in the sunshine state are
suffering from overzealous policing as well and having to sell up.
Is this the death of tourism? No. Fortunately, there are still countries
you can go to with some ease. Canada, Mexico (as long as you dont
go caving) and most of South America welcomes you. Australia is still
friendly and well if the Brits stopped going to Spain, god knows what
would happen to the Spanish economy. But it could happen. Madrid was
a warning. The terrorists are saying go on vacation at your peril. We
can strike anywhere at anyone. They dont even care if they kill
their own. Its all Allahs Will apparently.
Of course you might argue that the future of tourism is rosy. The demographics
show that there are more an more mature people with money
wanting to travel. Everyone is wealthier in the west and their kids
want to travel and explore the world. Nothing can stop this trend. We
can build hotels in Thailand forever and it will never stop. Well terror
can stop anything. (Just this week police shot dead 100 Islamic alleged
extremists who want to stop tourism in Southern Thailand.) It might
be that in future we vacation closer to home, Cornwall or Portugal for
example. Places that wont give us problems. Everyone will WANT
to travel, but it might be that given the law of unintended consequences,
we go or do something else. Thats for another discussion.
The UKs answer to terror is to initiate biometric ID cards that
will scan your iris to make sure you are you. Being forced to carry
an ID in the UK will be a big change to what has been quite a free society.
Of course Americans and Canadians carry them all the time as do most
people in Europe. Its one more liberty being lost to terror in
The US response to terror is to discourage anyone from going there.
(Seemingly, they do not fear the enemy within?)
There will be future shocks and each one of them will make a certain
section of the population less inclined to travel. It will be incremental
but will increase to a critical mass one day. The countdown to the end
of world tourism has begun. Soon enough, it will become a horrible reality.
If Im wrong. Great. If Im right, remember about those Disney
Sam North May 2004
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