Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Aussie tourists fashion a let down

This I believe. I remember waiting around for my flight in Jan Smuts airport in Johannesburg along with lots of other Australians and noting how you could tell the Australians from the white South Africans. The Safs were all nicely dressed and the Australians all looked like they had just got out of bed. I was myself one of the worst offenders, of course

Australian tourists may be generous and polite but our fashion sense, or lack of, is letting us down, according to international hoteliers. Hence, Australians are ranked only number six by hoteliers when asked who they think are the world's best tourists.

More than 4000 hoteliers were questioned in the inaugural Best Tourist Survey by online travel company Expedia. Managing director of expedia, Arthur Hoffman, said Australians had to dress better and make an effort to try more local cuisine in order to rank better in next year's survey. While the survey stopped short of telling us what we are doing wrong in the fashion stakes, one can only imagine the likes of bum-bags, hiking boots and sloppy-joes are letting us down.

In search of some fashion sense I picked the brains of Jana Pokomy, the fashion director at one of the country's leading women's magazines, Marie Claire. Unlike our travelling counterparts in Europe and the United States, an international sojourn from Down Under can clock up many kilometres, Pokomy said. "With this in mind we Aussies generally wind up looking a little worse for wear by the time we've endured even a relatively close trip," she said.

The trick is being comfy on a long-haul flight without sacrificing all fashion know-how. "A total fashion disaster is a track suit in my books, but also tight jeans and stilettoes just look silly when flying," Pokomy said. She suggests loose fitting cotton pants or soft fabric jeans for breathability and a classic laid back look. "No rips, fraying or acid wash, just simple and stylish." Team this with a cotton tee and pack a spare one to make fresh-faced arrival.

"(If) you are travelling first class ... you should pop on that laid back yet sophisticated Giorgio Armani suit which gets taken off and hung up, replaced by a pair of those softy, comfy pyjamas." And on your feet, a loafer or ballet flat is easy to slip on and off.

The on-board air-conditioning is always a little too nippy, so a fine cashmere cardigan or oversized knit would be suitable and stylish. Plus a wrap scarf can double as a blanket. "All of these items are not only comfortable but classically simple and always look great," Pokomy said.

If you are heading somewhere that will have a high chill factor Pokomy suggests upping the ante on the carry-on luggage. "Have a good sized carry bag into which you should pack your favourite pair of flat boots, a pair of warm socks and a long coat to throw on upon arrival."

It's uber important that you take great care in cultural sensitivity when travelling. The best way of making sure you don't offend is by doing your homework. "Check on the local customs where you are going or even the airlines you fly with," Pokomy said. But regardless of this, Pokomy warns the ladies: "It's an absolute no-no to have too much cleavage on display as this may offend fellow travellers".


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