Tourism: Will Eastern Surpass Western Europe?

map-of-eastern-europe-jennifer-thermesEarly warning signs are already out in western Europe, where socialist governments have always looked to foreign tourists as a major source of revenue.  Prices are high along this part of the eurozone while highway tolls are frequent.  The “Old World” is more sophisticated than ever in extracting tourist dollars in exchange for an ersatz culture that rivals Disney-like venues in the US and elsewhere.

      In contrast, this time last September I was driving through eastern Europe, glad to leave Italy and Germany.  The roads in places like Croatia and Slovenia were better than in the US, and traffic was even less dense than in states like South Dakota.  Not once did I encounter a bumper-to-bumper standstill.

     Prices for food and lodging and everything else were far less than anything in western Europe, including Britain and Scandinavia.  And get this: tips and taxes were already included in the bill.

     Contrary to US media impressions that paint the Balkans as war-torn and teeming with ethnic populations at each other’s throats, the opposite was true.  People were universally friendly and quick to give help.  As it turned out, most of eastern Europe is populated by descendants of the same Slavic tribes who moved in after the fall of the Roman Empire.  The same goes for the Muslims of places like Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose ancestors were Christians who had been forcibly converted to Islam by occupying Turks long ago.

      Driving across Italy before entering Croatia, I was struck by the Southern California-like freeway culture that seemed unending, though occasionally on the horizon were castles as a reminder that you weren’t somewhere near Los Angeles.

       A week in Venice perhaps gave me a glimpse of western Europe’s future.  The alleyways were densely packed with foreigners from everywhere on the globe, walking along in gang-like groups undoubtedly for mutual protection.  Crowds were like the pilgrims in Mecca.

      The Old World charm of Eastern Europe is genuine.  Churches are still places of worship, not just preserved as tourist attractions or vacant because of an abandonment of faith. 

      The year I’d previously lived and traveled in western Europe had reminded me of just how “new” so much actually was, thanks to the massive WWII destruction resulting from the retaking of Fortress Europa by the Allies (didn’t the westward-bound Germans account for far less damage earlier?)   

          Nightly news reminds us that the countries of western Europe are almost suicidally throwing away their birthright identities, now oblivious to the dangers that extreme multiculturalism will bring as they welcome hundreds of thousands of refuges from the Middle East.  It’s as if more cheap laborers and household servants will give the leisure-loving middle-class some of the privileged status of the old aristocracy.


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