CNN recently posted an article on their travel channel called “Is the ‘ugly American’ label fading?” – it looked at how American tourists were often leery of broadcasting that they were American in foreign countries and how this “trend” is diminishing. One couple, who had been to several different continents in the last decade, told CNN, "When we first started traveling, closer to 2001, we were a bit nervous to reveal that we were American. We were more willing to say that we were Canadian until we warmed up to people.”
Writer A. Pawlowski goes on to write, “Over the years, many U.S. travelers have worried about what kind of welcome they might receive when they leave home – whether because U.S. culture and foreign policy are disliked in some parts of the world or because of the stereotype that brands U.S. visitors as loud, demanding, too casually dressed and unversed in local culture. Valid or not, the ‘ugly American’ label has stuck in many countries where U.S. tourists flock.”
I was born in Canada but spent my formative years growing up and going to school in South Florida. I was a proud Canadian, with a flag sewn to my backpack and later a license plate on my car. However, if there’s one thing I learned from living in the States, it’s that Americans are very patriotic and proud, and I can’t imagine my friends traveling abroad and not representing their country. If asked where they were from, I think… in fact I know that they would have proudly proclaimed their American status.
The CNN article explains that approximately 73 percent of the people in France and 65 percent of Britons now have a favorable view of the U.S., compared with 39 percent and 51 percent, respectively, in 2007. Ratings of America have also improved sharply in Russia, China and Japan since 2009. The article cites another feature from the Los Angeles Times that pointed out: “…a more diverse U.S. population, the weak dollar and the emergence of other global powers have all contributed to the demise of the ‘ugly’ stereotype.”
I may be a Canuck, and a crazy-patriotic one at that, but it saddened me to think that American travelers would be scared or even ashamed to admit to foreigners where they come from. And I’m glad tourists can feel more at ease being honest about it now. One of the best things about travel is sharing your culture and nationalism with others, and if you can’t be yourself, you’re missing out on an incredibly rewarding part of traveling abroad.