What does the average American tourist want to do and see? What is important to the middle-class traveler from New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles? Temple Fielding, whose travel guides to Europe have been coming out since 1948, says, The fact is that most travelers don’t give a damn for the sights except for the very famous ones. They pay lip service to museums, tombs, battlefields, but they care the most about their hotel and if they’re comfortable they generally like the city. Their second concern is restaurants and shopping. Sightseeing comes a bit down the list. Apparently a lot of Americans agree with Fielding since more than three million of his guideblogs have been sold.
Judging from the number of music festivals held in Britain, Europe, and elsewhere, the music festival is an excellent way of attracting visitors. Some thirty countries offer festivals featuring music each summer. Edinburgh, Scotland, holds one of the biggest of the festivals. Some are elitist concerts attracting the affluent. The Salzburg Festival, held each year, attracts thousands and for several weeks insures full occupancy of all the hostelries in and around Salzburg, Austria. Tickets go for as high as $100 for each performance.
Because it is mostly rimmed by mountains the winter climate is mild and the Mediterranean coasts have been attracting vacationers since Roman times. Wealthy Europeans have been visiting Italy for several centuries. The British, the first tourists of modern times, took to the Cote d’Azur in the late 1800s. If they were around today, they might be more than amused by the millions of people crowding most of the coasts of Spain, France, Italy, and the Greek Islands. They enjoy mild winters and the nearly rainless summers that characterize the Mediterranean climate (found also in Southern California, Chile and South Australia). The some 230 million permanent residents who live around the Mediterranean welcome the money brought by the millions of Northern Europeans and others. As for welcoming the tourists themselves, well?
As a region Europe attracts more Americans than any other, a total of almost four million a year. As for all regions the numbers fluctuate annually reflecting economic, political, and social conditions in those particular countries and in the U.S. The United Kingdom attracts by far the most Americans. West Germany has been the number two choice primarily because of the large number of U.S. military personnel traveling there. France is number three followed by Italy, The Netherlands, and Spain. As for European cities, London ranks first in tourist popularity, followed by Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam. The totals in thousands for each European country are seen in Figure 5.3.