Is there too much emphasis on scams etc and is it skewing tourists impression and enjoyment of their trip?
This safety fear/perception was really brought home to me earlier this week. Whilst waiting for a bus at 1030am in Trafalgar Square I noticed a tourist, in a family group getting off a bus, drop her travel card. I immediately said " you've dropped your travel card" and went to hand it to her......and that is when the screaming started! She was grabbed by what looked like her mother and dragged away. Much shouting "it's a scam. Don't take it" real fear when they looked at me! It took her about 10 seconds to realise it was her card, but it felt like an age. The card was grabbed, no thanks or acknowledgment of their mistake and they scuttled off with much suspicious looking over their shoulders. It was embarrassing at the time and funny afterwards( my friends think it is hilarious!) but I really do think it is the saddest thing. This family were genuinely frightened, expecting to be targeted in one of the safest places in London by a 41 year old woman dressed for a business meeting. I had even brushed my hair!
The only reason I understood there reaction was from reading forums like this! As a local their behaviour was inexplicable. They must have spent their entire time in London clinging to their money belts quaking in fear.
I have been contributing to this site for a short time and to other travel forums for longer and I have increasingly noticed the focus on "safety" from many contributors,
The question "Is it safe?" seems to be a default first question with no thought of why wouldn't it be safe? (I have even seen it asked in reference to the Tower of London to which the obvious response is that there has been a lot of violence but it was very much in the past!)
The assumption seems to be that you WILL be targeted and that EVERYWHERE you go you WILL be in danger! I might be exaggerating slightly, but the first line of this forum does seem to say this pretty clearly - "Tourists are targeted by scam and rip off artists everywhere in Europe". Not a very helpful statement.
You could say, if you are a glass half empty kind of person, "tourists are targeted by scam and rip off artists everywhere, not just Europe" or " tourists are targeted by scam and rip off artists but the extent varies greatly by location in Europe." They certainly aren't targeted everywhere.
Why is there this fear? Is a flawed perception being reinforced by its constant discussion? Why do people think it will be so different away from home and that they have to completely change this behaviour to remain safe? Obviously making people aware of specific risks is important but has it reached overkill?