One of the Europe’s most visited cities, but also famous for its purported rudeness, Paris has launched a campaign to improve its reputation and better meet the needs of tourists.
Restaurant servers, taxi drivers and retail sales staff in the French capital all too often perceived as impolite, unhelpful and unable to speak foreign languages say local tourism officials, who are distributing a manual with guidelines on better etiquette.
The six-page booklet, entitled “Do you speak Touriste?”, contains greetings in eight languages including German, Chinese and Portuguese and advice on the spending habits and cultural codes of different nationalities.
France is the world’s top destination for foreign travelers, with Paris visited by 29 million people last year. The income that tourists bring to hotels, restaurants, attractions and museums accounts for 10% of jobs in the region and is an important lift to the economy at a time of depressed domestic consumption.
The Paris tourist office has warned that growing competition from “friendlier cities” like London meant Paris needed to work harder to attract visitors, especially from emerging market countries.
More than 30,000 copies of the handbook on friendly service are being distributed to taxi drivers, restaurant servers, hotel managers and sales people in tourist areas, with a focus on the 1st through 9th Arrondissmement and the Monmartre area.
I’ve visited Paris three times in the last two years and each time I’ve found most people to be friendly and helpful despite my atrocious French language skills. From my subjective perspective, the stereotype of the rude Parisian is outdated and contributes to visitor hesitation to interact with locales. What do you think?