Aug
07

Why Tourists Should Pay More

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Many countries across the world operate a tiered price system for entry to museums, historical buildings and other points of interest. The systems invariably means that tourists and foreign visitors will pay a higher entry price that local people. I’ve had numerous conversations with disgruntled tourists at having to pay a premium to enter a museum and feel ripped off.

My view is that for things like places of interest and museums, there is no reason for poorer countries in particular not to charge a higher fee to tourists and foreign visitors. As tourists we have travelled to see something unique (such as Petra in Jordan). Essentially, it is something Jordan can sell. Petra itself is far too large to be taken to exhibit overseas but other ‘national treasures’ are often sent to exhibit in other countries. Egyptian artefacts have been on display in London and the Bolshoi Theatre from Moscow regularly put on shows in other countries often at premium prices.

Other countries have different commodities which they sell at a premium abroad compared to the prices at home. Oil is a primary example of this. If a country such as Zimbabwe is blessed with a natural wonder such as Victoria Falls, why shouldn’t they be allowed to maximise venue from it in the same way countries maximise their revenue from oil? Similarly, local people who do not enjoy the spending power of Western tourists should not be prevented from seeing part of their country (be it natural wonder or historical building) so a multi-tier pricing system is the obvious answer.

Recently, I was in an Eastern European city and I was offered the choice of a prebooked taxi for 50USD but instead I took the bus for the equivalent of $0.30. Different people will place different values on things. What one person sees a a price worth paying, others will see as a rip-off. As a tourist / traveller, I accept multi-tier pricing but I still don’t want to feel ripped off. This is the balance that countries need to find.

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