Tim Foolery

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Dumb Tourists?

A friend shared an article with me from The Age entitled “How Dumb Tourists are Ruining Great Places” last week. The author posits that tourists are destroying some of the great tourist destinations around the world by doing things that are synonymous with that location.  For example, adding a Love Lock to bridges in Paris (for those who don’t know, a Love Lock is a simple padlock where you carve/write your initials and the initials of your loved one and lock it to the bridge – the key to the lock is then thrown away, symbolizing your undying love).

I’ve always thought the love lock idea was just stupid and I’ve never done it – but it has been a tradition in Paris for decades.  The article continues to say that not only are the locks destroying the aesthetics of the City, but also negatively impacting the structural integrity of the bridges.  I don’t think anyone who buys a love lock in Paris is intending to cause the ultimate collapse of a bridge — “I love you so much I want to cause millions of Euros in damage and kill dozens of people”  — isn’t something you’ll hear often.

Love Locks – Pont des Arts – Paris

Personally I think this tradition is dumb, but it is a tourist tradition.  I say let the tourists put a lock on the bridge – but I also say these locks should be removed on a regular basis so as not to overwhelm the bridge – maybe once a week or once a month (I don’t have enough stats to make a true recommendation).  To pay for the labor of removing these locks, I suggest adding an additional tax on padlocks – say 1 Euro per lock – again, I don’t have the underlying data to see if that is enough, but you get the idea.  The tourists continue the tradition, a new job is created and we can all move on.  A few years ago an artist removed all the locks on one bridge in an evening and used the salvaged items in an art project.

Yes, I know my solution is simple and I haven’t vetted the economics or logistics (and I likely won’t).

As global tourism increases we’ll see more and more actions / damage like this.  While I think one should have the right to participate in these long standing tourist traditions, my question to you is why do you want to?  Does leaving this lock really cement your love – or are you just trying to get laid?

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