Paris in bid to improve image

Tourism chiefs launch guide to get rid of the city’s reputation for being rude and aggressive

18 June 2013

PARIS tourist chiefs are trying to rid the city of its reputation for being rude, overbearing, unpleasant and aggressive – not to mention a little prone to conning tourists.

Now the city’s chamber of commerce and the regional tourism committee have launched a guide for workers who are likely to come into contact with tourists – in the hope of improving the welcome.

Called "Do you speak touriste", the guide was launched by regional tourism director Jean-Pierre Blat, who said: “The aim is to fight against our bad reputation for the way tourists are treated in Paris. It is also vital that tourism professionals have proper tools to better respond to the needs of our foreign visitors.”

He said another reason was that different nationalities had different sensibilities and it was important for tourism professionals to know this. “You would not welcome a Japanese and an Italian visitor in the same way, there are cultural codes to be aware of. We need to adapt.”

The guide will be distributed to shopkeepers and stallholders. It will give information on different nationalities – such as their spending and what they like to buy, how long they stay, their usual codes of behaviour. It will also contain the translations of common everyday terms from French into languages such as German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese.

Tourists, however, have other reasons to fear Paris streets as last month leading luxury companies complained that their customers felt that the streets were not safe with pickpockets and muggings being reported. Staff at the Louvre also walked out on a one-day protest against aggressive pickpockets – and closed the museum for the day.

Paris and the Ile-de-France are the world’s No1 tourist destination, with 29million visitors in 2012.

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