Clairvoyance and a poker face are among the qualities British hotelkeepers should cultivate when dealing with foreign guests, according to a guide issued by the country's tourism body.
"Anticipate all of the needs of a Japanese visitor" but avoid "exchanging a smile or making eye contact with anyone from France you don't know" are among a list of peculiar dos and don'ts prepared for the tourist industry by VisitBritain.
Basil Fawlty, the hotelkeeper star of the hit British sitcom who constantly referred to World War II among his German guests, appears to have cast a long shadow if the alternately bizarre and blindingly obvious etiquette guide is any indication.
"Don't describe a visitor from Canada as 'American,'" or "ask superstitious people from Hong Kong to sleep in a historic property," the list, which has been derided in the British press, instructs.
"Indians are amiable but have a tendency to change their minds," the advice, clearly unafraid of overgeneralization, goes on.
Russians: don't cram
Vladimir Putin: titchy exception to the national rule?
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images
Avoid housing Russians -- 'a "tall nation"' -- in cramped rooms, it says, possibly having missed that Vladimir Putin, surely among the most globe-trotting of his countrymen, measures in at an un-towering 170 centimeters (5'6").
And as for Germans, "deal promptly with any complaint" from them, lest they become even more "rude and aggressive" than they can already appear.
Finally, the guide's clearly well-traveled authors advise, don't mention Belgium or, strictly, "Don't try to talk to Belgians about their country's politics or language divisions" -- which must amount to almost the same thing.
The following is the full list of do's and don'ts that VisitBritain defended to the Daily Mail, as "unrivalled ... market intelligence."
Dos and don'ts
Do: Understand that Indians are amiable but have a tendency to change their minds quite frequently.
Do: Ensure tourists from Russia -- a "tall nation" -- are housed in rooms with high ceilings and doorways.
Do: Realize that Australian people are being endearing when they make jokes about "Poms" [Aussie slang for British people].
Do: Anticipate all of the needs of a Japanese visitor -- even if they haven't told you what they are.
Do: Deal promptly with any complaint from German or Austrian tourists, who can be "straightforward and demanding" to the point of "seeming rude and aggressive."
Don't: Ask superstitious people from Hong Kong to sleep in a historic property or a four-poster bed, because they associate them with ghostly encounters.
See? Nobody from Hong Kong.
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Don't: Exchange a smile or make eye contact with anyone from France who you do not know.
Don't: Describe a visitor from Canada as "American."
Don't: Try to talk to Belgians about their country's politics or language divisions.
Don't: Say "no" in a direct way to a Japanese tourist -- instead think of a "nicer alternative."