European Dreamin’

I’m not a world traveler. In fact I’ve never been outside the northern half of the western hemisphere. I haven’t left the United States since 9/11 (although that is coincidental). Even when in America almost all my time is spent in the Eastern Time Zone. About ten years or so ago the idea of traveling to Europe began to intrigue me for the first time in my life. Much of the credit for that must be given to the novels of Dan Brown and the late Steig Larsson.

One of the biggest reasons that European travel began to interest me is because once you arrive it is easy to travel from country to country and experience very different cultures. Traveling from state to state In America doesn’t come close to duplicating that situation. The history is remarkable to an American because European countries are so much older than America. A 100 year old building is somewhat ancient in Pennsylvania; it is almost new construction in Germany. That is not changing. What is about to change is the ease of travel and that will make Europe less attractive to many tourists. The cause is the Brexit and I feel there will be others tempted to exit the EU in its wake.

Under the existing system, (until the UK formally exits), an American can fly into any major airport, go through customs once and be set to freely move about the EU member nations. With a few rare exceptions (the UK being the most prominent) an American can exchange their dollars for Euros and spend without worrying about borders.

London is a popular starting point for Yanks because the language is the same, (I wonder how much trouble most Londoners would have with my Buffalo accent?). The culture is also rather similar and the history is at least somewhat familiar to most Americans. With the soon to come burden of clearing customs a second time many Americans will simply start off in Paris, Berlin, Athens, Rome or Amsterdam and skip the UK. You can eliminate the UK from a European trip and still have more points of interest than time or money to see.

I am ethnically Polish, my wife ethnically French. If we were to travel to Europe visiting France would be a higher priority than visiting Poland. Both are EU members so traveling between them would be rather simple. Poland still uses the zloty not the Euro. Exchanging currencies would be a barrier; it might be just as easy to tour one of the other Eurozone countries as it would Poland. If Poland were not in the EU it would be easily deleted from our personal itinerary.

In large part I’m talking about the bucket list of two individuals. In the scheme of international politics my wife and I aren’t even on the radar screen. However we are just two examples. The Brexit was a huge mistake for many reasons and among them is certainly the negative impact it will have on UK tourism. If other countries follow suit they will also make themselves less attractive to tourist and entrepreneurs alike.

I don’t know if a “do-over” of some sort is possible in the case of the UK; but I do know other countries should learn from their mistake!


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