A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney
Tourism is not what you normally think of as an industry because the only thing it makes is money. But tourism may be the biggest business in the world.
Every community on earth fights to attract strangers to come to see its sights, because tourists come with money and leave without it.
Considering how much cities spend to woo people, it seems strange that the name "Tourist" itself has become sort of a dirty word. That may account for the trend toward calling them "Visitors."
Tourists are so easily spotted they might as well wear signs reading, "Kick me."
Their uniform identifies them. They wear shorts in summer, carry some sort of bag --or back pack -- and always have their cameras at the ready. The guidebook told them to wear sensible shoes so they wear sandals, which are not sensible at all.
Tourists need pictures of landmarks to prove to friends back home that they've been somewhere. They enjoy their trip most after they get back home. They tell friends how wonderful it was -- no matter how terrible it was.
In their desperate attempt to attract tourist dollars, cities come up with all kinds of fake attractions – gimmicks like imitation antique trolley cars.
Horse-drawn carts that bear no relation to the life of the city are popular with tourists.
Nothing comes cheap for them. In New York, a ride through Central Park in a Hansom cab goes for $68 an hour.
Every inducement is offered to attract tourists but once they come, they're treated like cattle.
Several times a day, they are rounded up and herded off into a bus to be taken to another location. This gives other business people a shot at their money.
Tourists have no real purpose. They're looking for something wonderful in a strange place and they can't find it. Often, what they're looking for doesn't exist. If it does exist, when they get there, it's full of other tourists who got there first.
In the cities, they walk out the front door of their hotel and, immediately, they're lost.
They consult their map but have no point of reference because their hotel isn't on the map.
Foreigners gape from afar at the seat of power here in the United States where our president lives. They strain to get closer for the best possible view of our White House.
Perhaps he's explaining to his friend, that the Lincoln bedroom is on the second floor and is nice - but very expensive.
Tourists are looking for a good time and good times are elusive anywhere. You can't set out to have one. In real life, good times most often come by accident.
In spite of the cost, the discomfort and the inconvenience of travel, no amount of evidence to the contrary can convince determined tourists that they should have stayed home on their vacation and done some work around the house.
Copyright 2003 CBS. All rights reserved.