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Paris tries to befriend tourists ... by stereotyping them

By James Durston, CNN
updated 10:36 AM EDT, Fri June 21, 2013
No longer will this be a terrifying sight, if a new 'charm school' initiative in Paris pays off.
No longer will this be a terrifying sight, if a new 'charm school' initiative in Paris pays off.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New advice manual to be given to taxi drivers, waiters, hotel staff
  • Provides tips: Brazilians, Dutch like freebies; Chinese enjoy shopping
  • Around 29 million visitors to Paris each year may benefit

(CNN) -- Type in "French are" into Google, and one of the top auto-complete items that pops down is "French are rude."

That exact phrase "French are rude" comes back with 93,000 Google results.

And France topped out a poll last year of rudest countries to travelers.

It's a common stereotype, but it could soon be inaccurate if a new 'charm-school' initiative pays off.

Tourists will no longer encounter surly waiters or boorish hotel staff, in Paris at least, if they apply the advice from a new tourist manual about befriending visitors, launched by the Paris tourist board and Paris Chamber of Commerce.

doyouspeaktouriste.fr offers tips on how to assist Brits -- they want personalized advice and like to breakfast between 7.30 a.m. and 8.30 a.m. -- and look after Chinese -- they appreciate original luxury shopping suggestions and require nothing more than a smile and a "ni hao" to consider you agreeably polite.

Other nationalized tips include:

Parisians given manual to stop rudeness

Americans: Expect quick, personalized service; fluency in English

Germans: Enjoy cleanliness and a handshake

Belgians: Prefer budget hotels and Wi-Fi

Brazilians: Like physical contact and taxis

Spanish: Look for free things; eat dinner between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

French: Enjoy sampling international food; don't want to be considered a "tourist"

Italians: Eager to explore; welcome attention on their kids

Japanese: Often need to be reassured; never complain; bow frequently

Dutch: Look for free things; enjoy digital information

If it sounds like France is trying to overcome its own national stereotype by spreading others, that's only partly true.

"You don't welcome a Japanese tourist the same way as an Italian one. There are codes to take into account, so you have to adapt," Jean-Pierre Blat, general director of the Paris area tourist board, told The Telegraph.

France has had its share of bad publicity where tourism is concerned in recent months.

In April the Louvre Museum closed after a spate of thefts, and in May a man shot himself in front of horrified tourists in the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Officials are passing the new guide to taxi drivers, hotel and restaurant staff and others most frequently in contact with the city's 29 million visitors each year.

It's not a new idea.

China did something similar before the Beijing Olympics in 2008, informing citizens that spitting, cutting queues and clearing your throat loudly may not be as tolerable to tourists as they are to locals.

China has recently taken its politeness initiative outside its own borders too, launching campaigns to teach tourists how to behave while abroad.

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