10 March 2006

Travel bosses tell Americans to behave abroad

With their reputation plummeting worldwide, US travel bosses are seeking to reverse the perceptions of Americans with a new campaign to advise them how to behave abroad. Roger Dow, chief executive of the Travel Industry Association of America, said advice would initially be given to business travellers in an attempt to save America’s "sinking" global image. The Apis system, which includes other initiatives such as training customs officers in America in how to treat customers, has raised fears of a backlash against US bookings among travel operators.

The US image was suffering as a result of the behaviour of Americans abroad, as well as foreign policy decisions, Dow said.

"It’s an attitude thing – do they find ways of always saying they have something better?" said Dow.

Personally, while I have found it to be true that Americans can appear loud and brash when visiting other countries, Europeans are no less guilty when visiting the US. While Americans often seem to want all their home comforts when abroad, many Europeans adopt a patronising attitude when in the States. Liberal-minded Europeans at the university in which I studied in America were often lamenting the lack of tolerance States-side in comparison to their apparently liberal-paradise back home - while simultaneously constantly mocking their American counterparts for any ignorance concerning global issues. In both cases no one likes to constantly be told that "back home is better because…" by a foreigner in their homeland. While I welcome the initiative (in particular the "customer-service" training for the highly hostile customs officers) I would suggest that before any Europeans laugh at the arrogant behaviour of their American cousins they look at their own intellectual superiority complexes.

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