Parlez-vous polite?

effiel towerThe majority of my clients are heading to Italy this summer and and fall, however quite a few have Paris on their travel agendas. They are going to experience a warmer welcome from the Parisians due to a new city sponsored project called “Do You Speak Touriste?”
As the saying goes, Paris would be great, if it weren’t for the French. Now, in an effort to improve tourism in a down economy, the city is distributing pamphlets to local businesses teaching them how to not be so famously rude to visitors.
Aimed at improving relations between the 80,000 visitors a day and front line workers like taxi drivers, servers, hoteliers, museum staffers, and merchants, “Do You Speak Touriste?” provides colorful cheat sheets aimed at helping Parisians shed their snooty image. The city’s tourism board is passing out the six-page guide directly to service personnel, and also has an accompanying website. “I think they know it’s desperate,” Elaine Sciolino, a New York Times writer in Paris told TODAY, “I mean the economy is really hurting, and unemployment is at ten percent. Foreign investment is way down, so you’ve got to keep tourism up.”
For instance, to understand Americans, the guide says, locals should know they demand WiFi, enjoy high-end hotels, and prefer to have dinner at 6 p.m. Meanwhile, Germans want to converse in German. Spanish like amusement parks. Feeling uncertain about navigating an unknown city, the Japanese need to be reassured. And the guide describes the Chinese as “fervent shoppers,” gently reminding readers that “a simple smile and hello in their language will fully satisfy them.”

The pamphlet provides tips for 11 different nationalities in total. But not everyone feels they need the new handbook. Chef Francois Pasteau of L’Epi Dupin has insisted his staff speak English, among other languages, for the last 18 years. “Why you have to be rude with customers??” Pasteau told TODAY. “No! You have to be nice, with everybody!” With tourists lining up to dine at his bistro, the attitude seems to be working.

For a video newscast to hear more, click here to watch.

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