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As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, one might think Britain, and its hoteliers, would know how to avoid making gaffes with foreign travellers.
But it appears that tourism chiefs fear the emergence of a real-life scenario straight out of Fawlty Towers after they devised a list of dos and dont’s for the tourist industry.
Recalling the famous 1975 episode of the BBC comedy, in which Basil makes repeated references to World War Two in front of German guests, many of the tips – issued by taxpayer-funded VisitBritian – relate to what is deemed an acceptable conversation by different nations.
While Belgians should not be asked about their country’s politics or language divisions, a Japanese tourist should never be told ‘no’ directly but must be pacified with a ‘nicer alternative’.
Other tips range from the bizarre to the blindingly obvious. Hoteliers are warned tourists from Hong Kong should not be given a four-poster bed because they associate them with ‘ghostly encounters’.
They are also told they should not poke fun at Indian accents.
Here is the full list of Dos and Dont’s:
DO: Understand that Indians are amiable but have a tendency to change their minds quite frequently.
DO: Ensure tourists from Russia – a ‘tall nation’ – are housed in rooms with high ceilings and doorways.
DO: Realise that Australian people are being endearing when they make jokes about ‘Poms’.
DO: Anticipate all of the needs of a Japanese visitor – even if they haven’t told you what they are.
DO: Deal promptly with any complaint from German or Austrian tourists, who can be ‘straightforward and demanding’ to the point of ‘seeming rude and aggressive’.
DON’T: Ask superstitious people from Hong Kong to sleep in a historic property or a four-poster bed because they associate them with ghostly encounters.
DON’T: Exchange a smile or make eye contact with anyone from France who you do not know.
DON’T: Describe a visitor from Canada as ‘American’.
DON’T: Try to talk to Belgians about their country’s politics or language divisions.
DON’T: Say ‘no’ in a direct way to a Japanese tourist – instead think of a ‘nicer alternative’.