Counter Tourism

by Andrew Piskai

Dear Frequent Fliers,

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in conjunction with Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department for Homeland Security (DHS), has implemented new regulations in an effort to curb international tourism. As part of President Obama’s new “War on Tourism,” these restrictions will undoubtedly shift how millions of Americans travel. While cities with very-urban areas like Detroit and Compton are efficient at mitigating tourism, some large cities like New York City, Philadelphia, and Orlando are still tourist hotspots. Napolitano, a New York native, describes the difficulties she had growing up with tourists all around her: “They were all over the place. The largest part of my job today is preventing today’s children from experiencing the effects of tourism I experienced as a child.”

As such, the new plan attacks tourism with a multi-faceted approach. Due to the new regulations, airports across the country will be required to completely implement the new policies by late 2012. The more advanced security screening measures include extensive strip-searches, especially on children. Additionally, high risk items such as cameras, binoculars, sunscreen, and grandma will now be banned on all international flights. Domestic flight restrictions have prompted many airlines to ban checked bags altogether; passengers will be limited to one carry-on provided that it “doesn’t look like it was bought in surf shop” as per the new laws. Air marshals will also be present on twice as many flights.

Despite the enhanced protection the new regulations present, one element of the new plan has spawned controversy. The announcement of a new tourist watch-list, scheduled to appear later this summer, has received a great deal of backlash. Due largely to their long history of profiling, airport security has never garnered much support. Adam Pelfry, a Minneapolis native, dissents: “Just because I’m a Caucasian with a Canon camera around my neck and a sunburned baby, doesn’t mean that I’m any more of a tourist than the next guy. These regulations are honky-tonk.” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor retorts, “Honky-tonk or not, these regulations are here to stay, so we as Americans need to embrace the new laws and arrive twice as early to check in.”

A. T. Piskai, Associated Press

Leave a Reply