Friday, March 16, 2012

How Not to Attract Tourists

How Not to Attract Tourists
"Finally, when travelers actually disembark, they are too often subjected to inaccurate lessons in American manners and common sense. Americans may be surprised by the conclusions of a 2006 survey by the U.S. Travel Association, which found that foreign travelers were more afraid of United States immigration officials than of terrorism or crime. They rated America’s borders by far the least welcoming in the world. Two-thirds feared being detained for “minor mistakes or misstatements.”
Since then, according to Geoff Freeman, the travel association’s chief operating officer, the border experience for visitors “remains a significant issue.” Partly, Mr. Freeman said, that’s because border staff members are overwhelmed by the volume of travelers; but the larger problem is a mind-set that sees “security and customer service as mutually exclusive.”
This security mind-set occasionally veers into the absurd. Recently, two young European tourists were detained at Los Angeles International Airport for tweeting loose banter about plans to “destroy” America (an apparent reference to partying) and to disinter Marilyn Monroe. Vigilant border personnel reportedly searched their luggage for shovels, then deported them. Overseas commentators reacted with eye-rolling weariness but little surprise."

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