Anyone who has ventured outside of the quiet confines of North America will have encountered “touts” — local residents who gather at bus and train stations, airports and other tourist-intensive locations to hawk their hotel, private room, taxi service, or other tourist service. Touts can be helpful or annoying, depending on the situation and how relentless they are.
On our first solo international travel of any great length, to Prague in the fall of 1998, Catherine and I made the mistake of trying to ignore a man who seemed like a tout but who was actually a bona fide transit “honour system inspector.” We survived.
In the Dominican Republic the next spring, we had a taxi tout spirit away our luggage to a waiting cab before we noticed; once Catherine had climbed inside, he moved between me and the door, looking for a tip. When I offered $5 Canadian — essentially worthless outside of Canada, but all I had — he wasn’t impressed, and quite a flurry of exasperation ensued.
But there have been situations where we’ve arrived in a strange city late at night, needing a place to stay, and having a “lodging tout” present themselves has been a very valuable service.
Until this week, I’d never seen a tout in North America. On Thursday, though, at the SMT bus station in Charlottetown picking up G., I saw my first: a man was approaching all “look like they’re not from around here” types getting off the bus asking if they were looking for a place to stay.
We’re slowly joining the international community…
I believe you may have encountered someone from
The Gallant Tourist Home on Kensington Road who have regularly met buses and have provided a place for budget travellers. With the lamentable closure of the youth hostel in Charlottetown due to the fact they could not secure affordable insurance, Gallant’s is one of the very few “backpacker” type accomodations available in Charlottetown although other places like “A Place to Stay” run by Betty Hannan in Souris are found on Prince Edward Island.
Leo Cheverie, cyber tout.
The Ecocentre in Lennox Island is building a hostel on it’s top floor.
To Leo Cheverie: Thanks for the plug. I hear about Mr. Gallant from a lot of folks who find their way here. We do not tout, but are happy to have people come and stay with us. If anyone wishes to know more about our area, I suggest a visit to Waldron Leard’s site which he updates daily with scenic photos, etc. the URL is:http://www.isn.net/susankin/07… It’s well worth a visit!