While I would love to not tip, I think its a bad idea to reward bad service. I especially hate how the French is impervious to meeting customer needs for menial tasks, which they are supposedly paid to provide. I don't think all wages should be based on social engineering. Some jobs pay low based on skill level.
Why use public transit and rely on it to get around when it might be easier to book an excursion. Navigating is a BIG time waster.
Learning a language is fine, but how many? Europe has tons of languages. How about Asia with 4 major languages (Korean, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese Chinese). You cited the immigration issue. This has actually made learning a language less pressing. Many immigrants never learn the local language since much services are done in their native language. We can properly cite English as the universal language.
I agree that more Americans should travel, but it isn't cheap and it still doesn't change how our services respond to foreign travellers. Our immigrants have already brought it close to home.
It would be nice to see more tourist destinations include tips in their prices. I have visited (and served at) many resorts, and the best of them include a 10 or 15% gratuity on the check. Disney should begin to do this, and include this disclaimer on the check:"A 15% gratuity has been included on the check. In the U.S., a 20% gratuity is considered standard. If you feel you received excellent service, please consider leaving an additional tip." They could also print out the amount that the additional 5% tip would be.
The United States has always been behind in teaching languages. perhaps due to the our status as a financial superpower. Other countries sought out our business, and catered to us by speaking our language. Europeans have never had that luxury, due to the concentration of so many cultures and languages in such a small area. I learned Spanish in Junior High and High School, but never achieved much mastery over the language, despite taking it for six years. I'm pleased to see schools have begun teaching languages much earlier in school, but the classes still aren't totally effective. My niece took Chinese (I don't know which dialect) all through elementary school, and yet she only knows a few words. We definitely need to implement more effective language courses in schools, especially now that our status as a financial superpower is sinking.
In Britain we complain a lot about the railways, and some complaints are valid, the fair system is almost uniteligable, and some train companies are rather harsh with the penalty fares if you happen to have caught the wrong train by accident (or been mislead about the validity of your ticket), but what can't be denyed is that it goes just about eveywhere, and in at most cases at fairly frequent intervals - heck you can even travel overnight from almost anywhere in Scotland into London to arrive before 8am.
Public transport is often joined up in thinking. One website will find how to get to your destination using almost any mode of public transport you can think of. Marvellous.
Other languages... Well English does have that magical ability where if we speak it loud enough and slow enough people understand us ;-) In other countries such as Australia is considered by the government to be an essential for future prosperity for a reasonable amount of the population to be able to speak some Asian language (With Japanese, Mandarin and Indonesian the big ones); I think in Primary levels its an essential part of the curriculum.
Passports are only typically valid for 10 years or so (based on my Aus/UK experience), so that wont work unless free renewals are also offered (and given the high cost of passports in both the UK and Australia, I don't see it happening)
I live in Europe (The UK actually) where unions are quite strong. Name the last time a union striked here in Europe in a way that stranded tourists.
Now, on the other hand look at non union Ryanair. A company that pays below normal rate, makes you pay for your own training (which is exorbitant for people in the airline industry), a company that makes you pay for your uniform... In the end you end up paying them to work... For yourself - they make you register your own little pretend private business so they can screw you out of basic benefits like sick pay. Oh, and if Ryanair close your base and reassign you to the other side of the continent, you're on your own.
Greece had a major strike in 2012. Spain had a slow down that impacted commuters and travellers in 2010.
@Jack: You might call it pessimistic, yet you have not rebutted anything I wrote.
Why public transportation isn't realized more in the States is testament to the reality that it isn't needed. The population density in the U.S. does not compare with Europe and Asia. Just having a nice network will not pay the bills and in this recession, we can't afford it.
Yet in neither strike you cite do I see instances of tourists being "Stranded" for weeks and months. Still waiting for this.
When I say tourists are stranded, it means they cannot use such transportation and their traveling plans change. They obviously do something else.
I suppose its enough of a problem that Greece's government offers a guarantee.
"Greece says it will cover the extra costs for any tourists stranded in the country as a result of industrial action or natural disaster."
Here's another one.
"Tourists stranded by Greek strike in port of Piraeus Striking workers prevented tourists from boarding ferries Dock workers have gone on strike in Greece's main port, Piraeus, preventing thousands of holidaymakers from catching ferries."
"Egypt - 5000 Tourists stranded after strike closes harbour in Luxor - Buses hired"
"Transit Strikes Gum Up Commutes In France, London"
"Across the English Channel, millions struggled to get to work and tourists hurriedly revamped their travel plans as a strike by London Underground workers closed much of the city's subway system. It was the first of several such 24-hour strikes planned for this fall."
Commuters in Paris packed into limited subway cars or drove during the reduced service, while London buses overflowed with passengers and congestion clogged British highways. City sidewalks were full of walkers and thousands of bikers took to the streets in both European capitals.
So much for constant strikes in Europe stranding tourists for weeks and months. One 2 day strike in Greece preventing people boarding ferries, fair enough. One strike in Luxor - Egypt, and reduced service in London and Paris - hardly stranded.
No, I did not rebut anything you wrote (except for all the places I did in my comment that wasn't a response to you), because I don't care to get into a political discussion on a theme park website. I come here for my enjoyment; not for arguments.
You strike me as this website's Eeyore; "Nothing's going to make anything any better, so why bother trying?"
I sincerely hope that you're a just an internet troll trying to bait people into fighting. As sad as that would be, it's better than the idea of someone who just hates everything.
"It was the first of several such 24-hour strikes planned for this fall."
More than one incidence. Obviously, you haven't read it.
Hardly stranded since they have alternatives. Or perhaps when you visit Europe, you shouldn't rely on public transportation since it doesn't matter at all for tourism. Its not a feature.
When I said the strikes stranded the tourists, they did. Goodness. I though you were more aware.
I threw Egypt in there. Not Europe, but defintely International Tourism.
I have read that part of the article but still fail to see how it proves your original claim: series of 24 hour strikes even in a worst possible case scenario still strands tourists for... 24 hours - normal service resumes for a few days, and then there's another stop.
But of course, the strike was in london where there are a fleet of Black Cabs, Minicabs, Busses, Trains (outside of the underground system) light rail and now even a chairlift just waiting to help tourists get around. Heck, you can even rent a public bike in London now if you want to get around yourself.
You have utterly failed to prove your initial point, that unions cause tourists to be regularly stranded for weeks and months outside of the USA. It simply doesn't happen.
Now if instead you wanted to point to a non European example, why not take the Qantas shutdown... No wait, that was management locking everyone out because the Pilots wore red ties and made some PA announcements.
The post is CONSTRUCTIVE. It doesn't say that America is bad at tourism, but it offers up what we could do to get BETTER.
Your criticism is not constructive. You just shoot everything down and offer up no ideas of how to improve things. You seem to think that everything stinks, and nothing is ever going to make it better. Your tail will keep falling off, so why bother putting it back on?
Unions are bad, waiters are bad, public transit is bad, learning one language is okay, but really it's bad because then people are going to expect us to learn MORE languages.
"Name the last time a union striked here in Europe in a way that stranded tourists."
Months.... London in 24 hour intervals.
You have your answer that I already answered. Just because you said a strike ended within 24 hours doesn't mean it doesn't keep happening. It keeps happening over and over again.
"Rail workers also began their one-day action late on Tuesday, that is set to bring chaos to France's railways."
ENDLESS ONE DAY STRIKES. ENDLESS STOP WORK, ENDLESS SLOWDOWNS.
"The unions warned of severe disruptions, with only one in four suburban trains serving the capital and one in three high-speed TGV operating."
Of course, this happens for weeks and months.... Yearly. Over and over again.
"French public transportation worker unions have urged workers to strike for a three days in an effort to pressure the government to drop plans to increase the retirement age. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is refusing to back down at all on the issue of raising the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62."
The only way your statement holds up is if we redefine "weeks and months" to mean "a day or two" and stranded to mean " stuck once in Greece, and slightly inconvenienced in Paris and London" and constantly to mean "occasionally".
I live in the UK and I'm sorry but you are talking crap. There have been no instances of tourists being stranded in London for even 24 hours. There have been a tiny number of short term strikes over the last few years, (they are very rare and affect at most one particular type of public transport), and at most they have caused some inconvenience. Not exactly dire. Please don't pontificate about countries you do not live in and know nothing about other than what your over-worked imagination constructs from your news coverage.
Perhaps we can just ignore this guy's rantings folks and enjoy this site for what it is meant to be...
Again with Paris I still see noone being stranded. I see an emergency timetable - services still running. People having to take a different route or go at a different time than normal or use an alternative means of transport of which I am sure there are many in Paris. Not stranded.
When was the last time you took public transport in Europe?
I find it amazing that you think I'm talking crap when what I said was true. You admitted there are strikes that cause some inconvenience. You really don't know the effect on tourism. Or maybe it doesn't matter since tourists use something else. Certainly, not "dire". Lets just plan around these things BY NOT USING THEM. LOL!!!
I guess its better that a strike happens in UK because surely a strike in France and Greece is far worse. Not sure if I should laugh.
BTW, most tourists are in the country for a few days to a week. There's no keeping a tourist in the country when a strikes happens. They just leave as expected.
Oh and that other thing that we suggested they use, did you fail to notice that it to was... Public Transport!
Transportation in cities are usually publicly owned and defined as "mass transit". Transportation to and from cities are usually via airlines that are privately owned. The service you get from the two are completely different.
Once again, as a resident of New York, the largest city in the United States, mass transit it a complete necessity here. The population of Manhattan doubles during work hours, and there just aren't enough roads to handle all of those cars. Trains and buses are the fuel that this city runs on.
You may think "navigating is a big time waster", but it's actually a huge time saver for commuters around here. It takes a lot longer to get into the city via car than it does via train. Plus, you can use that time to read, listen to music, or do work instead of sitting behind the wheel getting angry because you're running late.
Many people have a lot of pride in driving a car. It makes them feel independent as they're going places on their own schedule. Now this doesn't apply to everyone, but suburbanites would rather take a taxi than take a train or bus.
But I definitely agree that suburban sprawl has affected the use of trains and buses. People living in suburbia don't want a train in their backyard either.
A high speed train going from San Diego to Disneyland, Los Angeles to Disneyland, or San Francisco to Disneyland would be awesome. The only thing I hate about going to DLR is the late night drive home if I can't make plans to stay overnight.
And the Eeyore comments? I've learned to ignore the constant negativity.