Thoughts reverent and irreverent from the road in Turkey


by in bloggingaboutturkey
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“Hmm, the rate isn’t good today, I’m afraid,” says the receptionist at my hotel and immediately I feel my blood start to boil.

It’s a fallacy commonly rolled out by commentators who haven’t spent much time in Turkey that things will be cheaper here because it’s not part of the eurozone. That is to overlook both the accelerating speed of price rises here. More importantly, it’s to overlook the fact that in tourist areas prices are almost always quoted in euros anyway. 

The excuse always given for this banana-republic failure to use the local currency is that it makes things easier for visitors. Such as visitors from the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, those well-known members of the eurozone, I want to scream, not to mention visitors from the BRIC countries and the Gulf States, all of them important new tourism markets for Turkey over the last few years. Indeed of Turkey’s top three tourist-generating countries only Germany actually uses the euro. So much for that argument then.

But even were it the case that all visitors to the country arrived with wallets stuffed with euros one has to wonder what happened to the idea that tourism was about experiencing the new. Back in the days when I was an enthusiastic globetrotter I didn’t have much trouble getting to grips with a myriad different currencies, this being part of what made travel so interesting. I vividly remember the time when I left a Vietnamese bank with a brick-sized pile of dongs that required a separate handbag to store them. Ditto Nicaragua airport, which I exited with so many cordobas that they could only have been shoehorned into my moneybelt at the risk of my being mistaken for someone eight months pregnant (not that it mattered since a Managua taxi driver effortlessly managed to relieve me of them before we reached the city centre but that’s another story).

When did travellers become such wimps that they couldn’t cope with a simple currency conversion even with the assistance of all the electronic gadgets that now form an obligatory part of holiday packing?

In the end, though, my real objection is to the fact that residents of a country can be legally charged in a currency other than the local one, thereby putting them at an expensive disadvantage at times of economic upheaval. My hotel bill today was 25% higher than it would have been two months ago without even the smallest additional benefit to show for the extra payment. 

Charge the visitors in euros “for their convenience” if you want to, but surely it should be illegal to do the same to the locals.

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