In America, a grown man will bury his house underground and arm his pets with flame throwers because he believes the government is out to take his freedom. So before we judge Parisian waiters, let’s keep a little perspective.
But, yes, the French government is asking its population to be nicer to tourists, especially French people who work in the tourist industry. In terms of pride and culture this is a significant emotional step for France, and from a PR perspective, it marks a mature and very business savvy move in the right direction.
The world has suffered through a debilitating recession for years now, and the tourist industry has been hit hard—which means the populations who make a living from tourist dollars are struggling. There are many things about the horrible economy and financial strife that are beyond our control as people, but being nicer to people who give us money isn’t one of them.
The French government—knowing that increased competition from other foreign destinations, especially in Asia, will increasingly entice travelers to bypass France and Paris—is being prudently proactive. It has already passed out 35,000 “Do You Speak Touriste?” pamphlets to tourism industry professionals, taxi drivers and café workers, with 20,000 more on the way. The pamphlets offer tips on how to be culturally sensitive to people from different nations including the United States, Japan, and Spain. Fighting stereotypes with more cultural stereotypes? Uh oh. Read more