By Jessica Pettengill | BSU at the Games
American tourists are often portrayed in pop culture as being fat, inattentive and loud. But among the reported 500,000 extra tourists visiting London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, many Londoners haven’t found these stereotypes to be true.
While American tourists may stick out in some instances, the Brits differ on what exactly an American tourist looks like.
Matthew Gowan and Anneka Blake, both of whom work in a ticket office for some of the major London attractions, say the shirts are the first thing to give away Americans. Neon colors or sports logos and fanny-paks are the big perpetrators.
However, some Brits think Americans try to blend in too much.
“You’re not as brash or uncommon as most countries are,” Pat Lines said, a cashier at County Hall Souvenir Shop, located right by the London Eye.
Connor Byrnt, a bartender at the County Hall Arms pub, said he doesn’t really notice one American trait that stands out, except for their generosity in pubs.
“All Americans leave me great tips.”
Part of this is due to American pubs being a service industry, but it might have another reason as well. One common theme of Americans in the minds of Britons is our congeniality.
“They’re all just so friendly,” Shelby Toussaint said, a supervisor at the CBS arcade along the River Thames. “If you’re on the train, British people just like to sit in cocoons, whereas Americans will just strike up a conversation.”
Gowan, Blake, Lines, and Byrnt all agree that there’s a certain approachability to American tourists that they don’t find in any other nationality.
“I love America mainly because of how friendly they are. I always have great conversations with my American customers,” Blake said.
Byrnt described a time at the pub when a group of young American guys on their “stag night” came through.
“The pub was fairly empty so when they came up to order they just started chatting with me for three hours. They were great,” he said.
Maybe the lack of a language barrier and a shared history is what makes Britons and Americans so chummy. Regardless of the reason, American tourists should start using their talkative charms to their advantage.
Jessica Pettengill is a junior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jessica and the BSU team at @jmpetty10, @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.