Falling into the tourist trap

CNN Travel posted an interesting article on tourists traps. They contend that many of the world’s top tourist icons are a let-down. Stonehenge is described as “an isolated pile of rocks in a usually muddy field”, and on Big Ben “Once you’ve seen it, you’ll know what time it is — time to go somewhere else”.

I agree. We stood in line at the Eiffel tower for about half an hour last year and gave up, as it would have taken us all day to get to the top. For me, the Niagara Falls were a big let-down: in my elementary school geography book the falls were depicted in a simple line drawing (no colourful photos in small-town Dutch elementary school books in the 70s!) as a huge waterfall surrounded by natural forests. When I visited the falls years later, that is what I expected to see. Something like Victoria or Iguazu falls. I was totally shocked by the city, towers and other traps surrounding the falls. Ever since then, the falls have been disappointing to me, even though I have been there four times now, and the falls themselves are quite pretty.

Steve Wright wrote a good article about evaluating tourism experiences and expectations earlier. Obviously, as far as CNN is concerned, many of the top icons don’t pass Steve’s test. But lesser known icons like Petra in Jordan, fare much better.


» Falling into the tourist trap

2 Comments

  • By Jaime, August 26, 2007 @ 17:00

    Good observations about tourist traps. However, it all has to do with expectations and the right information. While it is true that The Falls are surrounded by urban and touristy developmente, they are still amazing and the town is fun (if that’s what the traveler is looking fun). The Falls Region is by far the biggest tourist attraction in Canada and it offers something for everyone – sightseeing, golf, hiking, gambling, dancing, dining, shows, water parks for kids and much more. I used to be dissappointed because many years ago there was only the Falls and a string of touristy business – now it’s a veritable fun place.
    Cheers,
    Jaime

  • By Rogier, August 27, 2007 @ 23:00

    Excellent point, Jaime. We obviously had different expectations of the same experience. I would have been much happier if the falls had been in the middle of nowhere (like Virginia Falls in Nahanni), while you are happier now that Niagara offers so much more than just a string of touristy businesses.
    I fully agree that there is a lot to see in the area. For my part, I love the old towns, the history, and of course the vineyards.

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