Sunday musings: Austrian "culture advice," Flying is still safe, 7 top airports,

© Zell am Zee Tourism

Yesterday, we published a self-deprecating story that is supposed to be light-hearted. Its response in comments was a bit negative and many seemed to take the story as a serious bit of travel advice. I thought it would make us laugh at ourselves. Maybe we are losing that ability.

Today’s lead story should get the politically-correct crowd and some of yesterday’s commenters up in arms.

Austria’s cultural advice brochure takes flak.

Two small, connected resorts in western Austria were in the news for providing Middle Eastern tourists “cultural advice.” It seems these towns have become favorites for them because of the cool summers. However, the Middle Easterners bring some of their own “cultures” from home that don’t sit too well with the locals, like wearing burkas and dining on the floor of their hotel rooms.

The guide states: “Austrian women are free to choose their own dress style, and this is visible in their choice of modern, colourful clothes. Here the colour black symbolises mourning, and is rarely worn in daily life.

“In our culture, we are accustomed to look into the smiling face of the person opposite us in order to gain a first impression and establish mutual trust. It would be a great pleasure for us if you could join us in celebrating the uniquely joyful Austrian mentality and show us your colourful scarves and dresses and, in this way, show us your smile.”

Some local Austrian shop owners and hoteliers feel that the brochure is offensive. After all, Middle Eastern tourists spend twice as much a day as European tourists. Read the story.

What are your thoughts. Comment. Vote.

Is providing "cultural advice" or a list of local manners, obnoxious?

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This year’s freak spate of crashes doesn’t mean air travel’s getting more dangerous

With planes disappearing over the ocean and being shot from the skies by antiaircraft surface-to-air missiles, travelers may be feeling a bit apprehensive about flying. However, even with all of that activity, flying is the safest form of travel. The charts in the story tell a very positive story.

Air Algerie’s crash over northern Mali marks the third horrific airline crash in a week. If, as is assumed, all 116 people on board died in the accident, that will put the airliner death toll at 461 in just seven days. And if that wasn’t enough to put a person off flying, there’s the fact that these disasters came mere months after MH370 disappeared somewhere over the southern Pacific, taking 239 lives along with it.

But even though 2014 has indeed been one freakishly bad year for air travel, flying is still one of the safest ways to get around.

The 7 top airports in the world

After flying through O’Hare, connecting in JFK or Newark, or being delayed at LAX, have you ever thought about what the perfect airport might offer? These seven airports are the tops for their passenger amenities.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Stepping foot onto “Holland Boulevard” at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport feels like a walk down a street in the actual Dutch capital. Florescent blue lights illuminate the popular plaza between Lounges 2 and 3, where visitors can find the first-ever library within an airport (equipped with both books and iPads).

Changi Airport in Singapore
Changi Airport recommends that guests check in early — not to emphasize promptness for a flight, but for more time to revel in the facilities. (Yep, let that sink in for a second.)

The others are:
Hong Kong International Airport
Incheon International Airport
Munich Airport
Vancouver International Airport
Zurich Airport

  • Lisa Simeone

    I read the article. I don’t see how the brochure is offensive. It contains exactly the kind of info that any good guidebook does. I always read up on other cultures before visiting those countries. I want to be respectful of their customs.

  • Rodolfo

    I don’t think it’s “obnoxious,” and that’s the way I voted, but there are two ways of looking at it. On the one hand, informing visitors of local customs is a very good idea in any situation. On the other hand, to suggest to someone whose religion might require a certain type of dress to consider dressing differently might be seen as presumptuous. Still it certainly doesn’t call on anyone to dress like Austrians.

  • Ton

    funny as a dutch person i always try to avoid schiphol, its amenities if you fly outside schengen are decent ( a small museum) and shopping behind the customs is oke, but that is different if you travel within schengen

    also the boulevard is annoying if you have to get through it with suitcases, people stand around with food and coffee (or walk) lots of chokepoints

    and thats nothing compared to arriving there