Do you speak touriste?
The Paris Chamber of Commerce has put out a guide
for hotel and restaurant owners and shopkeepers who are being inundated with
foreign tourists this time of year, each with different customs and ideas of
what makes a perfect vacation.
It's fun stuff. For example, it says Americans
"spend the largest portion of their budget on lodging and like to eat dinner at
6 p.m. An American doesn't hesitate to introduce himself by his first name. They
especially enjoy the beauty of Paris lit up at night (they do?)"
Here are few other excerpts from a story filed by Associated Press....
CHINESE: appreciate personalized suggestions about where to go
for the best shopping — which is what they spend most of their money on while in
Paris. A smile and a hello in Chinese goes a long way.
SPANISH: travel mostly with their families and generally eat
dinner quite late, so warn them about opening and closing times. They often come
by car and are interested in free events.
FRENCH: don't want to be treated like tourists and often eat
foreign cuisine while in Paris. They spend on average the least of the 11
ITALIANS: can be impatient tourists, but a little attention to
their children goes a long way.
JAPANESE: expect comfort and cleanliness, but are unlikely to
complain while abroad. However, they will pass on their criticisms once
There's other stuff about how Germans appreciate a handshake (especially if it's
from a Greek person, I'd think) and how Brazilians want to see the "hidden" Paris.
The touriste guide also offers a few key phrases in
11 languages of most popular countries. "This way to the overpriced jewelry
shops" is a popular one for visiting Brazilians, Chinese and Russians, I'm
I didn't see a section on Canadians. But I'd suggest something like this:
Canadians will show up with little maple leaf flags
on their backpacks. Mind you, so will Americans from New York City, Austin, Texas and
San Francisco and other places that would like to secede from the U.S. and join a country with
decent health care and reasonable gun laws. Canadians might introduce themselves
by their first name, but only after apologizing for taking too long looking at
the menu and then apologizing for not speaking French and then apologizing for
apoogizing too much. Canadians will tsk tsk at the brashness of Americans but if
they're in Paris in June and they're from Winnipeg and the Jets are somehow in
the NHL playoffs and score even a meaningless goal they will strip naked and swim in
the fountain at Trafalgar Square and beat their chests and shout "WINNNNNN .....
Then they'll apologize.
Here's something a little more grounded in reality. France has been the most visited country for every
year there are stats in the World Bank database, according to Associated Press.
But it's never been a country where they spend the most, which I find fascinating.
Instead, France has lagged behind the U.S. and, surprisingly, Spain as countries
where tourists leave the most cash.
France's Socialist goverment wants to change
"I want to make France number one period, " said
Tourism Minister Sylia Pinel. She pointed out that the tourism industry in France
accounts fo rmore than seven per cent of gross domestic product, more than the auto
Stats show France gets 20 per cent more
international tourists than the U.S., but that spending in the U.S. is $126.2
billion, compared to $53.7 billion in France. Things aren't priced that
differently in the two countries, so it obviously means international tourists
stay much longer in the U.S. than in France. The AP story says visitors to
France often spend a few days in Paris, then high-tail it to other capitals and
Pinel says they need to lure more visitors to other
regions. I've spent some time on the Riviera, although not for years, and loved
the sophistication and seaside spots. Aix-en-Provence has wonderful art and
winding, beautiful streets. I was in Bordeaux a few years ago and absolutely
loved St. Emilion and the fabulous Dordogne valley, where you can canoe on
placid rivers and slip past hills capped with fairytale towers and eat
wonderfully rich food in wonderful towns such as Sarlat la Caneda, one of my favourite towns in Europe. You might even find a
visiting Frenchman straddling a statue of a goose....
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