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Reader feedback: A certain level of tourism

Re: Tourists love Slovak spas but hate services, News shorts, July 21 - August 3, 2003, Vol 9, No 28

Personally I've crossed the Austrian-Slovak border at Jarovce many times and I find the Slovak customs officers no more or less friendly or competent than their Austrian colleagues a few meters further. The fact that tourists get the impression that customs officers want a bribe has more to with the tourists' impatience and prejudice about former communist countries than with the attitude of the officers.

Language is an issue in Slovakia when it comes to tourism, although I don't see a really big problem there. In most restaurants I went to, the menus were translated into German or English. If an American tourist ends up in a restaurant with German menus, he shouldn't complain. If the restaurants have to translate their menus to satisfy every foreign customer, they'd have a menu the size of a phone book.

Besides, when I read the article I get the impression that the author and/or the people quoted in the article seem to expect luxury tourism in Slovakia. I think that is not something they should aim for. The fact that Slovakia is a country without a seaside but with a fantastic mountain countryside that is home to some very rare wildlife means the adventurous tourist should be the one to attract. This means facilities with basic comfort, but clean and practical. The attractions should be diverse and well organised, but still give the tourist the impression he is making his own decisions and discovering the country by himself.

When you come to Slovakia expecting to sit on the beach or by the pool for a week in a luxury hotel with entertainment in five languages, so-called "International cuisine" and someone bringing you cocktails, you've picked the wrong country.

With a few minor adjustments I'm sure Slovakia can attract lots of tourist who come to enjoy the country the way it is and not try to change it into a second homeland.

Jeroen Philippe,

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