Sunday, August 24, 2008

Brits Behaving Badly? or Just Pound Foolish?

While August, the month of European summer holidays, is coming to a close, the topic of British tourists behaving badly in the Mediterranean is openly on the table – and amid the pages of the New York Times and the Sun. Now, after a rash of headline-making incidents, local British consular authorities have launched campaigns to curb this “hedonistic hooliganism,” likely because those very consular authorities are taking on the financial burden for British citizens that have to be tended to after getting themselves in hot water.

But has the Mediterranean not always been a sunny getaway? Why now?

Beyond alcohol, economics and social behaviors are also be fueling this binge.

Economically the Brits have the strongest currency to spend. Combine a strong British Pound with a cheap air travel to sunny climates, and you have a volatile combination of young people in a place with significantly less restrictions than they’re used to and only a week or so to enjoy it. Well, the psychology is simple really. The same gluttony that fuels one to gorge at a buffet applies here.

Ultimately, regardless of how pale your skin might be, we all live in a world of entitlement where we’ve come to assume that money, above all else, talks louder. In this world, if I walk in the door with money in my pockets and you as a country or shop have invited me in, then I suddenly become the boss. It no longer matters if I embarrass myself or my friends, that I endanger lives, that I show little to no respect… because I should be regarded as important – I’m the customer. You need my money; you have to take the good with the bad.

Perhaps up to a point – but all good things in moderation as the Greek would say.

Alongside the British consular campaign to curb drinking, British and Greek governments should continue to crack down on tour organizers and establishments where this type of mayhem occurs frequently.

Bars and clubs can be held financially and even criminally responsible if a guest is over served and causes harm to self, others or property.

Consular authorities should not come to the immediate aid of patrons who find themselves arrested due to bar fights or accidents. Nothing like a hangover in prison to sober you up!

Local communities can consider fines for public intoxication or excessive noise. Proceeds should go to subsidize security personnel or special ‘street teams’ for commercial areas to ensure that rules are enforced.

Before you argue that an island getaway should not be a police state, I agree. But it should also not look or smell like the remnants of college frat party.

If that’s the kind of Greek you want, you should go to the other side of the pond.

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