There’s now one more reason to avoid Victoria’s tourist-swarmed downtown core this summer.
Volunteers in 1940s-style British “bobby” uniforms — complete with egg-shaped hats — will be walking the beat “armed only with a smile, interesting historical facts and crime prevention information,” according to police. It’s an effort to make out-of-towners feel even more like they’ve escaped to a west-coast Pleasantville. And it’s another reason to hate on tourists:
You know, the camera-toting (don’t you have a smartphone?!), meanderers clad in comfortable shoes, clogging the seawall in Vancouver and the streets of Kensington Market in Toronto. Also known, to one friend, as “THE WORST SIDEWALK WALKERS!”
But in our annoyance, we forget: We are tourists, too.
Canadians are the seventh-largest spenders on travel in the world, to the tune of $37 billion in 2014.
The golden rule of a good trip is good people. That could be a travel buddy or a hostel crew, but it’s also often the locals. In Lisbon, Portugal, my sister and I made friends out of people who showed us the hidden bars and late-night hangouts, the beaches a short drive out of town, the best places to catch the sunset.
That’s the hipster way to travel these days — getting the “local” experience. But we forget it relies on locals treating us, the tourists, like the potentially interesting humans we are.
I try to be kind to tourists, sometimes. I’ll offer directions or tips on what to see and eat. But I’ve never looked at a tourist as a potential friend. And I’ve never been the source of someone’s amazing story of travel to Canada.
There is another reason to stop hating tourists: They brought in $17.3 billion in 2014. You’ve heard this before, but many people’s livelihoods depend on them.
Yes, it is irritating to see my hometown become even more of a caricature of imagined Englishness. I didn’t think Victoria could grovel any harder at the feet of its British roots. It can.
But whatever I think of the volunteer bobby idea, it’s time to shed the haughty gaze at the wayward tourist. There’s no point having a superiority complex if you don’t help make your city a nice place to be.