Reply To: Tourism is Destructive : Discuss (and Solve!)

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Thanks Ashley – I really appreciate the input!

I guess I feel like it’s kind of two problems – supply AND demand. You’re talking about influencing the suppliers . . . but I dunno. I feel like they need cash so desperately, that any discussion which starts out “would you consider limiting your income” is not going to be a HUGE success.

I mean, they wouldn’t be building large (and ugly) if they weren’t being constantly pressured to keep prices low. There are so many examples. One guide told me recently that he’s probably going to be fired by an agency because one of his tourists wrote a 2 page long complaint about him, because he forced her to “pay for her lunch, even though it was included in the tour.” Fact is, what was included was a packed lunch – which she got – but they stopped by a family who gave this woman fli (that crepe pie sort of thing that takes 3 hours to cook) and a bunch of other stuff – on TOP of the lunch she already had. The guide insisted she should leave 300 lek for the family (about 2 euro), and the woman was FURIOUS. I mean, that woman was clearly demented, but I hear it over and over again. Things like “well, your road isn’t asphalted, so we don’t think we should pay 10 euro to sleep here.” And then there are the people who just dicker for discounts cause it makes them feel clever. A Czech once told me we should make our prices higher so that we can always offer a discount, cause that’s what Czechs expect. In fact I remember a Czech on a bazillion dollar motorcycle, covered head to foot in leather (which I imagine is expensive?) shaking his head at me because I wouldn’t give him a 100 lek (50 cent) discount on his room – as if I were being completely unreasonable. And if it comes to THAT, I also remember Albanian employees of the EU Delegation throwing massive fits because they had to pay the VAT (sales tax).

In the face of all this constant whining and carping, I don’t imagine that the threat of becoming Venice (no matter how keenly *I* worry about that – and I do) will encourage people here to stand up for themselves. I’m afraid their response would be “We should be so lucky to have the problems of Venice.”

I DO like the Nepal example though (or just the other day someone was telling me that in Bhutan, you have to pay 200 euro just to BE there – nice!). I mean comparative or scaled pricing doesn’t work yet, because already, even with ridiculously low prices, locals couldn’t afford them anyhow (and the hotels couldn’t afford to operate on scaled LOWER prices) but some kind of universal explanation of why you should pay a reasonable price (and stop whining about it) is a good idea.