Metaphorically used to define any tourist attraction that would not be worth entering if you were near your home, but sucks you in because you're a tourist on vacation. Tourist traps commonly sell cheap plastic souvenirs with the name of the attraction in large letters, local handicrafts which bear no resemblance to the traditional products of the area, and overpriced food.

Tourist traps can also be far more subtle or devious in their design. For example, on the Las Vegas Strip (a tourist trap of its own), there are many hotels that feature attractions you must pay to enter and enjoy, that then spit you out in some shop instead of just returning you to the entry point. This particularly insipid design philosophy just rubs me wrong; it's as if the attraction owner is saying "thanks for paying to get into my attraction; please feel free to pay again on your way out!".

There's tons of these layouts:

There's tons more like these, but I think by now you get the idea. Those I've marked (*) are the most frustrating since you have to pay to get in at all; it's borderline acceptable to corral the herds into an overpriced gift shop when you're giving them a free show, but it's quite nasty to have this done to you after you've already spent some money just to get into the attraction.

The Luxor's IMAX is the worst offender by far, forcing you through two floors of kids and noisy machines before finally setting you free back onto the attractions level. That there's only an up escalator and not a down one is more salt in the average tourist's wounds, mostly because its presence implies there might be a down escalator somewhere even when there isn't.

Like telemarketing and spam, I believe this particular kind of trap only works because enough people are stupid enough to fall for it that it's profitable. And before you ask, no, I've never made a purchase from one of these insipid shops.

Another version of this trap can be seen in all the casinos that sit on the strip, and that make it easy to get into them (with moving walkways all the way from the street to their front door) but impossible to get out (no moving walkways headed back out, construction or design preventing two-way travel, so no backtracking, etc.). Caesar's Palace is guilty of this in the extreme.

See also the Bally's monorail (temporarily out of commission for construction as of February 2003), which connects two hotels nearly two miles apart, but requires a good three quarter-mile walk to reach from either hotel; it's literally faster to walk the strip between Bally's and MGM Grand than it is to walk to the very back of these hotels from the strip, take the monorail, and walk all the way back out to the strip again.

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