Author's Note: In light of the recent financial crisis in Europe, it seems like the appropriate time to air some grievances regarding traditional practices in the region and how they affect tourism. By no means am I an economist, but I do have a checking account and a fair amount of common cents sense.
Hola. Bonjour. Γεια σας. While I hope that this note finds you well, I know that things have been a little rough on your side of the pond lately. With unemployment in Spain close to 25 percent, at least I know nearly six million people will have time to read this letter. Sorry, that was harsh. I'm not writing this to antagonize you or make light of your economic collapse. On the contrary, I'm here to help. Europe has long relied on tourism to fill its coffers, and summer is prime time for Americans to flock to your ruins, relics, and monuments (your stuff sure is old).
You need Americans to visit you. We need a strong Europe to bolster the global economy. So, how can we get things straightened out over there and encourage Americans to head your way? Here, in no particular order, are a few simple suggestions that you can have for free (which, I imagine, is a pretty good price for you these days).
- Open on Sundays. We get that you love Jesus in many parts of the Continent, but seriously, can you afford to turn away customers one day a week? I was in Italy years ago with a friend who was suffering from a crippling bout of diarrhea. We spent the better part of the day searching for a pharmacy that would open on the Sabbath (and stopping at public toilets that were happy to accept our money). Never mind trying to find restaurants that will serve food on Sundays (or stay open in the evenings). Open your doors and you'll be stuffing your registers. Trust me.
- Maybe don't close for the summer. It's delightful that you get somewhere between 4 and 50 weeks of vacation time over there, but perhaps you shouldn't put up the "Gone Fishing" signs for all of July and August when your streets are filled with fanny pack-clad tourists. You know what's in those fanny packs (er, bum bags, for you Brits)? Money. That they want to give to you. But you need to be there to accept it.
- Keep your transportation systems running. Why does it seem like there is always a train, plane, or bus workers strike somewhere in Europe? Oh, right, because there is. Even Germany - sweet, efficient Germany - isn't immune to these work stoppages. People are terrified to travel to Europe because they might get stuck in there. No one wants to be stranded in a foreign country with no idea when buses might be able to take them sightseeing, or worse, when flights might resume. It's great that labor is well-represented over there, but who's looking out for the consumers?
- Cool it with the racism. If the Euro 2012 soccer (sorry, football) tournament has taught us anything, it's that a segment of you folks really enjoys comparing black people to monkeys. Beyond that, there's a pretty sad history of racism in modern Europe (looking at you, France). The thing about that is, well, it makes you look like hateful idiots. It also drives people away. It makes travelers not want to visit you (and believe me, I know this because it's also an issue in the United States that definitely affects tourism). People take their money elsewhere. You should learn to tolerate people who don't look like you (or at least keep your ignorant comments to yourself). Also, stop spending money on bananas that you are just going to throw away. There's a financial crisis!
We still have our own economic problems, but we're eager to explore the world (and we're sick of vacations that involve visiting our annoying families here in the United States). We want to visit Europe. We just need you to be there to welcome us, transport us, and not throw bananas at us. We're not asking for too much. So come on, no more drachma drama, OK?