Some time ago on the terorism forum I said that the current policies of Bush are creating such a climate of resentment among the average Joe in the
rest of the world that tourists and visitors overseas will be affected for it for a long time to come...
Just found this interesting, if selective, article that talks about the phenomenon...
... more on site
But if you're heading overseas, be prepared to have it. Again and again. If the past 100 years were widely considered the American Century, this new
one is fast shaping up as the Anti-American Century.
Just ask tourist Colleen Frost, 33, who hopped into a cab recently on her first day in Berlin. An English-speaking driver demanded an explanation for
what he called "America's megalomania."
"He wanted to know what I would think of my country if my brother or boyfriend was killed in a war," says Frost, a dental hygienist from Santa Fe.
She says the ride was over before she could provide an answer for the disgruntled cabby.
How times have changed.
A mother lode of goodwill fostered in the decades after the defeat of Nazi Germany has been reduced to dust in recent years. A growing number of
foreigners see some of the United States' political decisions (pulling out of the Kyoto Treaty on global emissions) and personal choices (Americans'
penchant for gas-loving SUVs) as at best unilateral and at worst selfish. The confrontation over Iraq is just more fuel on a bonfire.
From Spanish plazas to Parisian metros, American tourists are being quizzed, grilled and even spat on by people who do not approve of the Bush
administration's drive for a war against Saddam Hussein.
As a result, a declining number of Americans (54% today vs. 79% a year ago) believes that the USA enjoys a favorable image abroad, according to a
recent Gallup poll. And a majority of Americans (64%) cite a fear of unfriendliness as the top concern of traveling abroad during wartime, according
to a survey in the February issue of Conde Nast Traveler.
Anecdotal evidence from across Europe indicates those fears are not unfounded.
"I've spent 100 days a year for the past 30 years in Europe, and, generally, people always managed to differentiate a government's action from its
citizens," says Rick Steves, a Seattle-based tour operator who specializes in Europe.
"But I have never seen this level of frustration in my lifetime. They just can't understand our push for war, especially the younger
Steves says the current climate is in stark contrast to the "breathtaking" we-are- all-Americans sentiment that gripped Europe on Sept. 11, 2001. He
is not discouraging his clients from traveling abroad now, and cancellations have been few. That said, his Web site features a flurry of concerned
exchanges about overseas travel. Steves urges would-be tourists to pack the right attitude.