viernes, diciembre 15, 2006

Ha! I'm so not alone on the tourist-contempt thing!

Hey, here's an article from the New York Times on tourist season. It was in times select, so I can't link it, but I've pasted it here. Enjoy and happy holidays!

Unfortunately, the T-shirt that came closest to what we wanted was hopelessly obscene. We dropped in on a dozen souvenir shops, and not one carried a shirt that we had seen some years ago. It summed up our sentiments in this season when Midtown streets are so crowded that you can barely move.

“Welcome to New York,” it said. “Now go home.”

Really, is it asking too much to have our city back?

Oh, sure, this is not a new lament. And yes, out-of-towners pump economic juice into a city that produces precious little these days other than Goldman Sachs bankers and traders with year-end bonuses that amount to double the gross domestic product of Tajikistan. We know how much New York needs tourists.

NYC & Company, the city’s tourism marketer, estimates that the number of visitors this year will exceed 44 million, including more than 7 million foreigners. That would be a 20-percent increase from 2002, the jittery first post-9/11 year.

Visitors, bless their open wallets, are spending more than ever, thanks perhaps to the incredible shrinking dollar vis-à-vis the euro and British pound. They shelled out $22.8 billion last year, or 62 percent more than in 2002, NYC & Company says.

Thank you, visitors.

But now can’t you go home, some of you anyway?

It shouldn’t take a reasonably fit fellow 10 minutes to walk from 50th Street to 45th Street in the theater district. But the crowds were so impenetrably thick on a recent Saturday at matinee time that the best one could do was shuffle along in frustration.

Is it fair to be forced, in one’s own city, to walk in the gutter because the crush on the sidewalk is too great? Must New Yorkers repeatedly endure the annoyance of not getting to an appointment on time because the tourists in front of them insist on walking — no, make that ambling — five abreast?

The mayor delivered a fine speech this week about the challenges awaiting a city whose population over the next 25 years is expected to grow by about a million, to more than nine million overall. Among other things, he said, mass transit must expand so that “congestion doesn’t bring our economy grinding to a halt.”

He was talking about the year 2030. Never mind that. Those of us who live and work here are grinding to a halt on the streets right now. And the city’s marketers are not content with 44 million visitors. They want to beef up the number to 50 million within a few years.
Gutter, here we come.

In fairness, most visitors seem like perfectly nice people, even if they sometimes do odd things. This goes beyond their non-New York tendency to stand dutifully at the corner waiting for the light to change.

They also — a startlingly large number of them — stand in long lines to get into Broadway shows for which they already have assigned seats. This phenomenon is conspicuous at tourist-dependent shows like “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Tarzan” and “Les Misérables.” Tickets in hand, the out-of-towners start forming tidy lines 45 minutes or more before the curtain goes up, as if they were at a movie theater with its policy of first come first served.

It is a baffling phenomenon.

“We saw others doing it, and we just joined them,” a middle-aged woman said as she waited with her teenage daughter outside the Broadhurst Theater to see “Les Miz.” The daughter added, “It’s part of the experience, I guess.”

I GUESS. No New Yorker would think so, though. Philip S. Birsh, the president and publisher of Playbill, chalked it up to these visitors’ being “a Disney World crew.” And “if you’re a Disney World person,” he said, “you’re in some way trained to stand on line.”

At least there is no harm in being sheepishly sheeplike. The same cannot be said of another type of visitor: young Europeans who come here for the sole purpose of spraying billowing clouds of graffiti on New York subway cars. “Guten-taggers,” The Daily News cleverly labeled them this week.

How serious is the problem? It’s not clear. New York City Transit says that defiled trains never make it out of the yards, so they are not an eyesore for the riding public.

Still, have we reached the point where we are outsourcing our graffiti?

Too bad we couldn’t find that T-shirt. It would have been nice to tell the Guten-taggers: Willkommen in New York. Jetzt verschwinden Sie wieder nach Hause.

In other words, welcome to New York — now go home. For that matter, you graffiti vandals can forget about the Willkommen.

2 comentarios:

Lola Gets dijo...

I enjoyed reading your blog, and Ill be back again! However, I am sorry DC lost you to NY, lol.

swandad dijo...