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Too many tourists for tourism employee

Joyce Walter writes about an overheard conversation
Reflective Moments by Joyce Walter

Do tourists have expectations that are impossible to meet by workers in the tourism industry? Perhaps. 

But not a single tourist I know wants to overhear a tourist worker, in a tourist information booth, comment to her colleague “I wish there weren’t so many tourists here.”

I don't think it registered with her that I could hear her remarks, but if she had been at the top of her game, she should have figured it out. Even with my back turned to her while examining some cookbooks, it was easy to hear her comments. 

Tourists and deafness do not always travel together.

Her colleague and I shared a look and he sheepishly looked away in embarrassment. 

I smiled, thinking of all the workshops that worker should be compelled to attend, workshops where she might learn how to be a welcoming ambassador for her community — even if tourists ask the same questions over and over, sometimes stop in only to use the washroom, and at worst, walk off with the bathroom tissue and towels. 

This particular community, on the weekend we visited, was the destination for thousands of visitors who stopped in to enjoy a wide variety of activities over three full days. Their spending in the community had cash registers ringing and business owners beaming with joy.

There was no joy behind the counter at the museum’s tourist information booth.

There was gloom because this staff person also didn’t want to work extra hours, but she supposed she would have to because she needed the money, but there was “more fun things” to do elsewhere.

I continued eavesdropping while she talked about not having a tan this summer because she was always working indoors. “Poor, poor girl,” I thought as she continued whining rather than asking if she could help me find a souvenir, a bauble with which to remember our visit.

Her attitude was in stark contrast to the ladies and gentlemen who greeted us at a pancake breakfast the next morning and at a perogy supper that evening.

When they found out we were tourists from Moose Jaw they greeted us with enthusiasm and expressed interest in our travels. Not one of them complained about our presence and how we were some of the too-many tourists stopping by.

At the breakfast one volunteer helped carry our plates, brought us condiments we had forgotten and her colleague would not let us dump our own garbage.

What a stark contrast in the attitudes of volunteers compared with that of someone being paid to be attentive, friendly and knowledgeable.

Perhaps, I considered, they should changes places: the breakfast staff to work at the museum tourist booth and the no-tan chick cleaning tables and depositing garbage at the breakfast.

But no, that would never work. Her attitude would drive customers away from the pancake breakfast were she to complain about too many tourists wanting to eat pancakes and sausages outdoors in the summer sun. No doubt she would mutter about running for salt and pepper or would dump coffee in someone’s lap by not paying attention to the job at hand.

But at the museum, souvenir sales would likely skyrocket with congenial ladies and gents offering assistance, pleasant conversation and community information.

We didn’t stick around to learn if the disgruntled worker’s  day improved but based on what we heard, my suspicion is that it didn’t — especially if pesky tourists kept insisting on invading her domain. Pity.

Joyce Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.