The French government is about to launch a publicity campaign asking the French to be nicer to tourists as part of a major tourism scheme aimed at boosting visitor numbers.
Improving the welcome extended to tourists must become a “national priority,” said foreign affairs and international development minister Laurent Fabius at a meeting of the Tourism Promotion Council this week.
And while part of that priority may include everything from improving the issuance of visas and streamlining VAT reimbursement procedures, a big part of the initiative will also include the launch of a “humorous” public awareness campaign asking the French to help scrub their reputation for being surly and rude to tourists.
It’s not the first time the French government has appealed to its own citizens to be more hospitable towards tourists.
Last year Fabius and Fleur Pellerin, speaking then as the Secretary of State for foreign trade and tourism, jointly acknowledged the need to improve customer service and help repair the country’s flagging international reputation following well-publicized attacks on groups of Chinese tourists.
This year, the new tourism measures were outlined at the close of the Tourism Promotion Council, after hearing from a panel of 250 tourism professionals and government representatives.
The country’s goal is to attract 100 million tourists in 2020 and maintain its stronghold as one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
Other priorities for the country include improving foreign-language skills and quality service among the people who work the front lines with tourists.
Likewise, the French capital also published its own six-page etiquette manual last year offering mini cultural sensitivity lessons on how to relate to British, American, Chinese and Brazilian visitors.
The manual was distributed to restaurants, taxi drivers and sales staff.