Saturday, September 8, 2007

Look what the cat brought in!

from Warsaw

Globalization has its fans and its detractors. Human trafficking around the world has indeed spread new technologies and changed living conditions. But transportation as a human contrivance has its drawbacks as well.

I think of invasive species coming into the United States through international commerce: the Zebra mussel and Dutch Elm Disease and now Asian pythons loose in the Florida swamps and doing very well in their new habitat to the distress of older occupants.

But a visit to Cracow yesterday brought me an example of humans as invasion species. There is now a booming trourist trade from the UK and Ireland of people coming just to Cracow for a weekend to get as drunk as their bodies can stand. They fly in on cheap discount airline flights. They get so drunk they fall over over the streets around the old market square.

A brochure in my hotel room advertised the "booze cruise" - you sign up for a cruise on the river to get so drunk that you can't walk - but the boat has chaperons at the railing to keep you from falling in the Vistula River. But you are assured by the brochure, no matter what, the booze will keep flowing.

Cracovians are less than pleased with this turn in their tourist market. One said to me: "This is not what we had in mind when we joined the European Union."

They also worry over a Gresham's law of tourism - offensive tourists drive away the good ones.
and cheapen in all manner of ways the community that seeks to live off the largess of strangers.

Entrepreneurial cost-cutting as an innovation in service delivery has led to this threat to an existing environment. Do these innovative carriers have some social responsibility to correct the external costs to older Cracow customs and habits that their actions have caused?

Should they raise fares to reduce demand for the service? Screen their passengers? Demand damage deposits payable to the city of Cracow?

Should Cracow impose a tax on drinks? Ask tourists to get a license in order to drink within city limits?

Steve Young
Sept 9, 2007


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