Poll: At what point do foreign entry requirements harsh your travel mellow?

OK, I’m still a little pissed off about Italy’s “new” registration regulations for US tourist (and possibly other nationalities) staying more than eight business days. Part of the reason I’m in a tizzy is that I still can’t find a definitive answer. The US Consular Information Sheet for Italy (dated August 13th, 2007) that was emailed to me conflicts with the Consular Information Sheet on the US State Department website, updated October 11th 2007, which still says that a permesso di soggiorno is only needed for stays over three months.

I don’t even know which stupid country to blame for this. Don’t these stupid heads know that I have an Italy guidebook coming out in a few months? And if the stupid entry requirements that we list in the book are wrong, who’s going to get blamed? Stupid Italy? The stupid webmaster at the stupid U.S. State Department web site? Stupid Tom Cruise? No, it’ll be me. Why? Because I’m the only idiot in the stupid Italy author pool stupid enough to keep a stupid blog going, making me the easiest flame-mail target when someone gets burned.

[pause for patented quad-lingual cursing jag]

Though I still can’t verify this with any certainty, it seems as if this eight business day rule only applies to people staying in private residences, meaning far fewer people are affected than I originally thought. So maybe there won’t be broken wine bottle duels in the streets outside Italy’s post offices, but it doesn’t change the fact that this development seems awfully short-sighted for a country where tourism is such a vital part of cash flow. If Italy wants to swipe the US for our ridiculous foreign entry requirements, like certain easily incensed KB readers have suggested, they should zing us in a way that isn’t going to brain their own GDP, like putting plain olive oil into extra virgin olive oil bottles or peeing into our wine imports. That’s what I’d do.

This is simple business strategy. If one clothing store in a strip mall of competing clothing stores decided to make its customers apply for a (not free, not easy to obtain) store credit card before allowing people to buy more than $10 of merchandise, how many people would go through the trouble of applying for the card and how many people would just go to a neighboring store? If Italy starts to seriously enforce this eight day rule, Spain, France, Switzerland and Slovenia are going to be popping champagne corks this time next year while Italy continues to blame the euro conversion for its tanking economy.

So, I got to thinking, at what stage does a country’s entry requirements deter potential tourists from visiting? Example: I briefly considered visiting Russia while I was living in Romania until I got a load of the hassle and cost of applying for a visa (made doubly convoluted when done from stupid Romania). As if on cue, Ukraine conveniently dropped their entry requirements, so off to Kiev I went. Too bad Russia! You lose jackhole!

So, finally, the poll topic is: have you ever said ‘[expletive] this’ when faced with ominous tourist entry requirements and gone to a different destination?

Sub-poll topic: what was the most trouble you went through to get a tourist visa?

I’m particularly interested in hearing more stories about tourists trying to get into the US, which seems to get more difficult every few months, even just for a same-terminal plane transfer.

Please keep your comments calm, civil and on-topic (Gemma).