Friday, March 16, 2012
How Not to Attract Tourists - New York Times OP-ED
How Not to Attract Tourists
By MARK VANHOENACKER March 15, 2012 New York Times OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
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.”… http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/16/opinion/the-unwelcome-mat.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha212_20120316
AS Americans, we like to imagine our country as we think of ourselves: open-hearted and welcoming; efficient and practical; easygoing, above all. These values are the foundation of our culture, of an open economy fueled by ideas and immigration, and of our soft power — America’s ability to change the world simply because it is admired.
Whatever foreigners think of the American experiment, though, it’s unlikely the experience of crossing our border has made them think better of it.
Imagine that you’re the citizen of a prosperous, democratic ally like Britain, Spain or Japan, and you’d like to visit America. Before traveling, you must pay $14 to complete an online United States government form called ESTA, short for Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
ESTA asks for basic personal data, like your name and birth date. It also asks whether you are guilty of “moral turpitude,” whether you’re planning crimes or “immoral activities” and whether you suffer from “lymphogranuloma venereum” (don’t ask). If you’re involved in terrorism or genocide — and for some reason you’ve decided to take this opportunity to inform the United States government — there’s a box for that. And if you’re a spy — a particularly artless one — please let us know.
Naturally, no one with anything to hide will answer honestly. Such purposeless questions recall Thoreau — “I saw that the State was half-witted” — and should astonish Americans, who know better than their government how to welcome guests.
Kevin Dayhoff Soundtrack: http://kevindayhoff.blogspot.com/ = http://www.kevindayhoff.net/ Kevin Dayhoff Art: http://kevindayhoffart.blogspot.com/ or http://kevindayhoffart.com/ = http://www.kevindayhoff.com/ Kevin Dayhoff Westminster: http://kevindayhoffwestgov-net.blogspot.com/ or http://www.westgov.net/ = www.kevindayhoff.org Twitter: https://twitter.com/kevindayhoff Twitpic: http://twitpic.com/photos/kevindayhoff Kevin Dayhoff's The New Bedford Herald: http://kbetrue.livejournal.com/ = www.newbedfordherald.net Explore Carroll: www.explorecarroll.com The Tentacle: www.thetentacle.com