The online travel company Expedia.com has released the results of it’s first ever Global Best Tourist Survey and guess what ? Americans are not the best tourists in the world. In fact, they are not even in the top ten.
In conducting this poll, 4,000 hoteliers from all over the world were asked to rate tourists from 31 different nations based on such categories as popularity,behavior,manners,generosity, tidiness, volume,fashion sense, willingness to learn the local language and try the local cuisine and by their propensity to complain.
The top finishers were as follows. 1. Japanese
2. British / Germans
9. Austaralians/ Danes/Finnish.
According to Expedia , Americans finished in 11th place but , if you disregard the ties, they actually did even worse, finishing no better than 14th among the 31 nationalities. The worst tourists were the French, the Indians and the Chinese ; no surprises there.
Results of such surveys are heavily influenced by the parameters that are set . Some of the categories that tourists were rated on are mystifying. Fashion sense, for example. Why should it matter ? Why was “Volume” even considered when assessing tourists? What exactly does “popularity” mean ? And what’s the difference between behavior and manners ? Isn’t tidiness a part of behavior ?
The news release doesn’t give many details but it is interesting to analyze why Americans finished where they did. Americans were tops when it came to generosity. This is only to be expected. Tipping is part of our culture and , I like to think, we are more empathetic when dealing with waiters, maids, concierges and other help. Americans also led the way when it came to learning a few phrases in the local language and in trying out the local cuisine. That second part is a bit of a surprise to me because I think that, except in the bigger cities like New York and L.A, we are very unadventurous when it comes to food. I’m sure we’ve all heard of Americans who go to France and bemoan the lack of ‘real’ food. One such guy whom I know travels frequently on business to China , Korea , France and Switzerland. He absolutely will not try the local cuisine , opting for steak and potatoes whenever he can. Give him a McDonald’s and he’s in seventh heaven . Perhaps those polled by Expedia are mostly at the high end and more cosmopolitan in their eating habits. Americans were last when it came to fashion sense and no doubt this affected their overall standing considerably. We are very casual in our dress and believe in being comfortable unlike those fashionistas, the French and Italians , who finished tops in this category.
Some other interesting sidelights:
__ The French were the most “fiscally conservative” ( read “stingy”) followed by the Dutch and the British.
__ The Germans were the tidiest.
__ When it came to tourists travelling within their own country, Canadians were the most popular .
Expedia has some tips for Americans travelling abroad. One, tidy your room before you leave; pick up things from the floor. Two, don’t play music too loud . Three , don’t be too shocked if things are not what you would expect ” back home”.
If enough of us heed this advice, maybe we’ll crack the Top Ten in next year’s poll.
P.S Six years ago, my daughter spent 12 months back-packing around the world. She went to Mexico, Spain, India, Ireland, England, China, Kazakhstan, Tibet,and China among other destinations. As she puts it she was ” a traveler, not a tourist” , living like the locals , ‘roughing ‘ it in conditions that would appall most of us.Ver, very different from those who are the subject of the Expedia survey. There were many , many other young people doing the same and she kept running into them over and over again during her travels. They came from many different countries but there were large numbers of Germans, British , Americans and Israelis. It was their consensus opinion that the Israelis were the most insufferable — rude, demanding and arrogant. She thought that it might have something to do with the fact that they had all served in the army and that might have accounted for their demanding , rough nature. It’s as good an explanation as any.