If there’s one thing I’m tired of hearing people complain about, it’s tourists. If you tweet something obnoxious about how a “Stupid tourist tried asking me to take a picture for her– doesn’t she know I’m busy?”, I will immediately unfollow you. If you think you deserve better treatment than a tourist simply because of where you live, you should check yourself at the door.
I know what you’re thinking — “But Rachelllllll, I live in an apartment in Manhattan
that my daddy pays for and the tourists are just like soooo annoying and make me get to the nail salon one whole minute late.” I work in New York City, one of the largest tourist destinations in the world, so I understand the impact that tourists can have on my daily commute or weekend trips. But guess what? Plenty of people who aren’t tourists can ruin my walk to work or weekend shopping trip, so that point is moot.
I’m always surprised when people avoid certain restaurants or attractions because “it’s a tourist place”, as if the fact that tourists enjoy going there makes it immediately irrelevant or terrible. In reality, most of those places are a hot tourist destination because whatever they offer is so damn good, that people will travel from all over to consume it. People take for granted that they area they live or grew up in is so special that tourists flock there. Take it as a compliment!
The thing about tourists is that, at some point in each of our lives, we were all once a tourist. When we go on vacations to tropical islands where we can barely understand the bartenders, we are tourists. When we take a road trip on the opposite coast and stop to take photos at each state sign, we’re tourists. When we visit a historical city and stand in line for a museum, art exhibit or statue, we’re tourists. Why is it when these spoiled city girls study abroad in London that it’s acceptable, but when their peers from London come to visit their city, they are verbally burned at the stake? Every traveler starts out as a tourist.
Tourists are a vital part of any thriving area, whether it’s a tiny town or a large, cultural city like New York. In 2013, there were 110.1 million international tourist arrivals in North America alone. Now multiply that number by the amount of money each tourist spends on average during their stay. That’s a lot of doll-hairs. More specifically, 2.36 trillion doll-hairs in 2014. Tourists are what keep some areas of the country alive and thriving economically and gives otherwise unemployed people a career. In fact, the tourism industry provided over 235 million jobs in 2010, representing 8% of global employment.
If you know that an area you frequent will be flooded with tourists (and you really can’t just grow the balls and deal with it), then maybe you should consider going somewhere else. Skip going to that same bar that you know gets packed when the Yankees are in town. Drive an alternate route if you think the road might be backed up due to “leaf peepers” (this is only relevant to those of you who live in the New England area). Instead of shopping at the outlets on the Saturday before Christmas, go a few weeks earlier. It’s. Not. That. Hard.
Being a tourist gives you the opportunity to experience amazing things, like trying another culture’s food, stepping foot in a building where history was made or simply checking an item off of your bucket list. Everyone deserves to experience those moments, so let’s stop complaining about them and instead let them enjoy their life.