Tourism contributes 9.7% of France’s GDP. With their latest government scheme, Do You Speak Touriste, French officials hope to improve the industry’s friendliness…and welcome more wealthy visitors in the process.
Why now? Why not 20 years ago more like. The nation that attracts 85m tourists per year still has customer service ‘issues’. Tourism bosses have worked out that businesses make more cash if they are helpful, personable and speak English – as opposed to rude, surly and horrid to non-French speakers.
Do You Speak Touriste’s brochures and PDFs have been distributed to France’s hotels, restaurants and tourism offices. They detail cultural, culinary and linguistic habits of 14 big spending nations (America, China and Russia included). By observing the following stereotypes they should deliver more tourists to Nice.
Les Américains, according to guide’s tourism tips, are damn needy. They demand “personal service and advice every step of the way”. They are also prone to “recommendations from relatives”, in the manner of “my Uncle Bob ate lunch in this real cute sidewalk café, d’ya’know it?”
Americans also prefer to eat at 6pm. Quelle Horreur! But our Atlantic cousins are generous souls. Americans stay on average seven days per trip. More importantly, they spend on average €152 per person per day.
Russians are even more generous. They splash out €170pppd and also stay for a week. They also spend a whacking quarter of their holiday money on booze and food. Russian tourists, however, “are very demanding”. But at least they dine late.
The highest rollers are les Japonais. They impart €198pppd on the French economy. Just don’t shake their hands when they enter your shop (“bows are more common” says the guide) and say “konnichiwa” on arrival and “sayonara” on exit. Why bother? Because splurge €60 each a day on shopping, silly.
Germans, however, visit with ruthless efficiency. They spend less than four days in town and demand “fluency in English”, “cleanliness”, and “good value” during their entire stay. Picky? Holiday-no-mates more like. A sorry 37% of Germans are forced to travel alone. But at least they don’t demand “gastronomie traditionnelle” like the culinarily challenged Brits.
The worst tourists? Mon dieu! The French are “very attentive to good value” and spend a majority of their money on food. Worse still, Les Français only spend €86pppd and “do not want to be considered tourists”. Don’t worry, at that price we’ll consider you locals.