We have heard much about tourists behaving badly while on holiday in Europe in recent times but now publications like Insider and CNN are turning the tables. They have gathered together a series of tourist experiences from TripAdvisor and other outlets showing that outrageous behaviour is not one-sided: some resorts and restaurants seem to be treating tourists badly too.
1. Overpricing and unexpected fees
The reviews selected to illustrate the problem mainly focus on overpricing and unexpected fees for tiny services. In a twist of fate, many of the incidents seem to have occurred in Italy, which has been the epicentre of tourist misdeamenors.
CNN reported on a $2 charge for heating a baby bottle in the Roman seaside town of Ostia. This is something that many restaurants and cafes are often prepared to do for nothing.
Similarly, in Palermo, Sicily, a family celebrating a birthday “was charged 20 euros — about $22 — to have their cake cut into 20 pieces,” said the New York Post. The large group had already racked up a 180 euro ($130) spend in the pizza restaurant, which is presumably expert and very fast at slicing but added the fee anyway.
2. Over 700 euros for a medium lunch and four drinks
Greece has been named and shamed too, particularly an oyster restaurant on Mykanos that has already been the subject of complaints. An Italian tourist there paid 711 euros ($774) for the privilege of an oyster restaurant lunch, during which they had not even eaten any oysters. Their intake “was three orange juices, an Aperol spritz, and a medium portion of squids and shrimps, after being invited to sit on the establishment’s daybeds for free.”
In comparison, a 2 euro ($2.50) charge to cut a sandwich in half at Bar Place, an Italian café near Lake Como seems like a bargain. The owner, Christina Biacchi defended herself, highlighting the need for “two plates instead of one and the time to wash them doubled, and then two placemats,” adding, “To cut it in half took us some time, and work must be paid for.”
During the pandemic and lockdowns around the world, a documentary entitled “Who’s picking up the bill?” (L’addition, c’est pour qui?) explored the effect of Covid-19 restrictions on the service industry, predicted parts of this post-Covid pricing effect. Food critic Michel Verlinden described a kind of “Darwinism” in the food industry, with only those establishments who are the most inventive and most “reactive” being able to survive.
We’re going to have to live with a new gastronomic landscape.Michel Verlinden, food critic
Putting it another way, John Prigogne of Rambo, in Brussels, said some business owners would be obliged to start thinking differently about their model, for instance “Okay, my restaurant is going to have business charges. Can I really choose to be in this location and pay 4000 euros in rent?”
It’s hard to tell whether tourists are now paying the price that food businesses absorbed during the closures, with owners having to scrape back every last penny, or whether, in time-honoured fashion, some businesses are simply taking advantage of unsuspecting tourists – and giving their counterparts a bad name along the way.