It’s no surprise that New York City is home to the United Nations. Many people believe, and we at Rentini are among them, that this city is the cultural capital of the globe. Blessed are we to have the diversity of peoples and places that bring us some of the best cuisine the world has ever created. We have the art, fashion, music, education, movements and trends befitting of a city as inclusive as this one. Indeed, we Americans are fortunate to have this diversity found not just in this city, but throughout our nation, from sea to shining sea.
Yet, if you venture into Las Vegas, Nevada, you might come across some who’ll say there’s no need to visit the actual Paris, when we have a replica. Go to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida, and you might come across similar sentiment from those touring the exhibits of other foreign lands. You may have come across others in NYC who seem to have neither the time nor the inclination to get to know the beauty that surrounds them in this land of ours. They’re busy with their careers. Strange, you think.
What is it about Americans anyway? They seem to live to work instead of work to live, goes the saying.
And there is much to support this sentiment. According to a recent report by the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, approximately 30% of Americans hold Passports. Of course, this number varies depending on the population and geographic area, but compared to other developed nations, 30% isn’t a lot.
Lack of time off from work is one of the reasons Americans cross international borders so infrequently. The typical American worker has an average of two to three weeks vacation time, and sometimes they’re forced to split these into week-long trips, which in turn limits their travel distance. The geographic isolation of the states–being bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south–makes the two neighboring countries the most obvious countries to visit for the American traveler.
Believe it or not, the U.S. has a rich culture and history of it’s own. A common belief among Americans is that what we can get after an hours-long flight to a destination in another nation, we can get the same somewhere closer within our own country. So why go so far? It’s closer, cheaper, and more familiar nearby–and we can forgo the whole passport hassle!
It goes without saying that this line of thinking is flawed. The idea that there’s no reason to go abroad to get what we already have here overlooks the nuance, diversity and beauty of global cultures. It assumes–wrongly–that Americans already have all the world’s wonders. Without dismissing the many things we do have in the USA, it is also true that the world as a whole is an intrinsically rich and beautiful place, with various respective histories and cultures. There is more to see than a lifetime allows.
All this reveals yet another reason the US has relatively low numbers of passport holders: skepticism and ignorance of other lands and peoples. Tied into this is the fear that they don’t like us.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to challenge here is the work culture that drastically limits the amount of vacation time for the typical American. The affordability of going across oceans as opposed to driving somewhere else is also a tricky issue.
Yet, as the world continues to globalize, we at Rentini see many opportunities arising, and signs of hope ahead. The facility of travel is increasing, becoming ever more sophisticated. We’re now more exposed to far-flung regions. The immediacy of information from all corners of the globe is growing as satellite, Internet, and phone access climbs. Entrepreneurs are acting on opportunities to add to our travel infrastructure. Job creation surrounding the tourism sector is providing livelihoods for people in rural and remote areas, helping to alleviate economic hardship.
We at Rentini support cultural exploration, support the idea that we’re interdependent. For any nation, we encourage people to recognize opportunities, to make the most of their time, and to reach for their dreams. Travel and discover; live and learn.