Should foreigners pay more? (long)
In many places, foreign visitors are charged more than locals when they visit cultural or tourist attractions. Do you agree or disagree with this?
To visit the beautiful and remote mountain kingdom of Bhutan, foreigners (everyone without a Bhutanese or an Indian passport) have to pay up to $240 a day. This is an extreme example of charging visitors more than locals, but the country has many valid reasons for this policy. In this essay, I will say why I generally agree with foreigners paying more to visit cultural or historical sites.
It’s easy to see why some foreign visitors resent being charged more. First of all, nobody likes to pay more than other people for the same thing. It’s irritating to know that the person beside you in a queue or at a tourist attraction has paid much less just because of his or her nationality. A second annoying point is that you often don’t get any better service just because you have paid more to enter a historical site or entertainment venue. In fact, the place is often overcrowded with locals and your visit can suffer. Furthermore, knowing that you as a foreign visitor are paying more often makes you bad-tempered and therefore less likely to enjoy the experience. Finally, some think that places such as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat or Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher are world cultural or natural treasures and should be open to everyone. They are not the property of some money-grabbing ministry.
However, there are good reasons why overseas visitors should pay more. For one thing, foreign tourism is still a privilege of the well-off. Why should countries not charge rich visitors as much as the market will bear? Nobody is forced to visit these places. Second, the attraction or cultural site is part of the local community’s history and heritage. They should not have to pay to learn about their own history. A third point is that it is extremely expensive to maintain places like Istanbul’s Topkapi palace. Tourists who may be visiting once in a lifetime can and should contribute to the cost of maintenance. In fact, this is the most important point: if you have dreamed all your life of visiting Peru’s Machu Picchu or China’s Terracotta Army then surely you are ready to spend a little more for this experience.
In conclusion, we need to put things in perspective. The admission fees rarely add much to the cost of our visit, compared to hotels or travel, and we as foreign travelers help maintain and preserve the site for the locals and for future generations.