It’s good to know that Britain is a popular tourist destination with visitors from all over the World enjoying our quirky and generally hospitable nation. I’d forgotten though that when the Coalition Government had its great “bonfire of the quangos” in 2010, it abolished such useful cultural institutions such as the UK Film Council but spared the organisation known as VisitBritain which is funded by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport with £30 million every year to promote Britain’s tourist industry in the UK and internationally.
In case, we, the British taxpayers thought the quango didn’t do very much, VisitBritain has just issued a pamphlet to help British hoteliers understand the funny little ways of Non-Brits. Inevitably, the media have picked up on the famous scene from the British comedy series Fawlty Towers where the magnificently manic Basil Fawlty instructs his staff never to mention ‘The War’ when a group of Germans descend on his hotel.
Maybe, VisitBritain believes that British hotels really are all like Fawlty Towers because the booklet is full of unintentionally comic national stereotypes when offering handy tips about the idiosyncrasies of our overseas friends.
Here are some of their Do’s and Don’t’s with some of my suggested illustrations:
DO: Understand that Indians are amiable but have a tendency to change their minds quite frequently.
Revolutionary Freedom Fighter Indian Mahatma Gandhi
DO: Ensure tourists from Russia – a ‘tall nation’ – are housed in rooms with high ceilings and doorways.
Russian Vladimir Putin (the little guy) with American John Kerry
DO: Anticipate the needs of a Japanese visitor – even if they haven’t told you what they are.
Japanese Yoko Ono in bed with English John Lennon
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’.
German Angela Merkel being pleasant to some semi-naked German footballers.
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.
Four-Poster bed in The Wow Suite, W Hotel, Hong Kong
DON’T: Exchange a smile or make eye contact with anyone from France who you do not know.
French Nicolas Sarkozy smiling and staring
DON’T: Say ‘no’ in a direct way to a Japanese tourist – instead think of a ‘nicer alternative’.
Saying No in ‘The Last Samurai”
Just in case you want to see that hilarious scene from Fawlty Towers again, here it is:
STEPHEN DEARSLEY’S SUMMER OF LOVE BY COLIN BELL
My novel, Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love, was published on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.
It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region’s Amazon site for Kindle orders)
You can order the book from the publishers, Ward Wood Publishing:
…or from Book Depository:
…or from Amazon: