bolivia named worlds unfriendliest country

Bolivia Named World’s Unfriendliest Country For Travelers

Is Bolivia the world’s unfriendliest country for tourists?

That’s the claim made in this month’s report from the World Economic Forum (WEF), which said that the diverse South American nation had the world’s most negative attitude toward foreign visitors, making it even more hostile than crime-ridden Venezuela or former Cold War enemy the Russian Federation.

And I’m sorry, folks, but that’s just plain whackadoo. I would like to personally challenge the editors of the massive 571 page The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013, Jennifer Blanke and Thea Chiesa, to get off the couch, stop crunching numbers, and actually get into Bolivia and meet the people.

There are some barriers to easy travel for Americans, primarily the requirement to pay the so-called reciprocity fee to enter Bolivia. However, Bolivians pay the same fee to enter the United States, and other South American nations also charge substantial tit-for-tat fees, including nearby Argentina and Brazil. It makes me feel like the WEF is picking on Bolivia because they’re not as large and influential as their neighbors.

CNN’s Frances Cha broke out the top 10 supposedly unfriendliest countries from the very dense WEF report. Kuwait, Latvia, and Iran were only a tad less unfriendly than the Russians, while Pakistan, the Slovak Republic, and Bulgaria came in 7th, 8th, and 9th. Bulgaria? Really? I haven’t traveled there, but honestly. Have you ever met an unfriendly Bulgarian?

Mongolia rounds out the list, which means that such notoriously angry nations as North Korea didn’t even make the cut. Is the propaganda value of a few visitors like Google’s Eric Schmidt or Dennis Rodman really worth that much?

Be that as it may, I found the people of Bolivia to be warm and welcoming. When I traveled there to view three of the world’s most endangered species of macaws, I could tell that a few locals wondered why anyone would come so far to look at some birds, but they did their best to make the crazy lady happy.

rural Bolivia landscape