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France looks to change its reputation for rudeness

Veronique Culliford, the daughter of late cartoonist Peyo, the creator of The Smurfs, and producer Jordan Kerner, and Smurf Ambassadors pose for a group photo on the Trocadero plaza as part of Global Smurfs Day celebrations on June 22, 2013.
Veronique Culliford, the daughter of late cartoonist Peyo, the creator of The Smurfs, and producer Jordan Kerner, and Smurf Ambassadors pose for a group photo on the Trocadero plaza as part of Global Smurfs Day celebrations on June 22, 2013.
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain

Paris and France have some of the world's most popular tourists attractions — from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre to Versailles. But, the country is also known for its rude denizens.

Now, some officials hope to change the country's reputation in a bid to increase tourism, according to media reports.

“If there is one issue we have to deal with, it is to change the mentality of the French who see service as servitude. We are very bad at service in France,” The Financial Times quoted Jean-François Rial, boss of specialist travel agency Voyageurs du Monde, as saying.

Simply stated, the bid to soften the reputation of the French among visitors is about increasing tourism revenues.

“Tourism is not an amusing or secondary matter. The stakes are the same as exports,” The Scotsman quoted Fleur Pellerin, France’s commerce minister, as saying. “Too often we mistake service with servility. The country needs to recover a sense of hospitality.”

France attracted more than 83 million tourists in 2012, and the French government wants the number of visitors to increase to 100 million next year, according to media reports. But, officials realize they need to change perceptions and keep tourists happy, especially if they want repeat customers and good word-of-mouth worldwide.

“The logic is simple, an unhappy tourist is a tourist that never comes back,” The Express quoted French finance minister Laurent Fabius as saying.

In addition to the reputation for rudeness, Paris also has a crime problem that officials are looking to combat.

Earlier this year, officials announced Chinese police would start patrolling popular tourist destinations in Paris this summer in a bid to safeguard Chinese tourists visiting the capital city. The French government apparently invited Chinese authorities to patrol the city, which is an increasingly popular destination among Chinese citizens.