Skip to main content

Don't call Canadians 'American' or smile at the French, British hoteliers told

By Simon Busch, CNN
January 8, 2014 -- Updated 1340 GMT (2140 HKT)
Don't confuse the two or that smile will disappear as quickly as you can say "triple maple pancakes," advises VisitBritain's outlandish etiquette guide for hoteliers. Don't confuse the two or that smile will disappear as quickly as you can say "triple maple pancakes," advises VisitBritain's outlandish etiquette guide for hoteliers.
HIDE CAPTION
Canadians not 'American'
Indians: indecisive
Belgians: sensitive about geography
Russians: tall
Australians: boorish
Japanese: anticipate all their needs
Austrians and Germans: can seem demanding
Hong Kong tourists: fearful of four-posters
The French: don't smile at strange ones
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tourism body issues bizarre do's and don'ts list for dealing with foreign hotel guests
  • Do give Russians a room with high ceilings -- they are tall, it says
  • And anticipate everything a Japanese visitor needs
  • But never call a Canadian tourist "American"

(CNN) -- Clairvoyance and a poker face are among the qualities British hotelkeepers should cultivate when dealing with foreign guests, according to a guide issued by the country's tourism body.

"Anticipate all of the needs of a Japanese visitor" but avoid "exchanging a smile or making eye contact with anyone from France you don't know" are among a list of peculiar dos and don'ts prepared for the tourist industry by VisitBritain.

The guide comes after a similar initiative by the Parisian tourist board last year, which said Brazilians were fond of physical contact and taxis and the Spanish enjoy free things and late dinners, among other things.

Basil Fawlty, the hotelkeeper star of the hit British sitcom who constantly referred to World War II among his German guests, appears to have cast a long shadow if the alternately bizarre and blindingly obvious etiquette guide is any indication.

"Don't describe a visitor from Canada as 'American,'" or "ask superstitious people from Hong Kong to sleep in a historic property," the list, which has been derided in the British press, instructs.

"Indians are amiable but have a tendency to change their minds," the advice, clearly unafraid of overgeneralization, goes on.

Travel dos and don'ts

Vladimir Putin: titchy exception to the national rule?
Vladimir Putin: titchy exception to the national rule?

Russians: don't cram

Avoid housing Russians -- 'a "tall nation"' -- in cramped rooms, it says, possibly having missed that Vladimir Putin, surely among the most globe-trotting of his countrymen, measures in at an un-towering 170 centimeters (5'6").

And as for Germans, "deal promptly with any complaint" from them, lest they become even more "rude and aggressive" than they can already appear.

MORE: Poop cruise! And 30 other outrageous travel stories of 2013

Finally, the guide's clearly well-traveled authors advise, don't mention Belgium or, strictly, "Don't try to talk to Belgians about their country's politics or language divisions" -- which must amount to almost the same thing.

The following is the full list of do's and don'ts that VisitBritain defended to the Daily Mail, as "unrivalled ... market intelligence."

Dos and don'ts

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: Realize that Australian people are being endearing when they make jokes about "Poms" [Aussie slang for British people].

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."

READ: 20 most annoying things people do on planes

See? Nobody from Hong Kong.
See? Nobody from Hong Kong.

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."

China's first tourism law comes into effect, tourists issued manners guides

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1001 GMT (1801 HKT)
Photographer gives Hong Kong skyscrapers a radical new look.
August 16, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
A cage-free shark photographer gets up close and personal with the ocean's most feared predators.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1428 GMT (2228 HKT)
Conde Nast Traveler reader survey praises antipodean cities but gives South Africa's biggest city a wide berth.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 0122 GMT (0922 HKT)
After the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Canal, here are 10 other ways to fall in love with the country.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 0349 GMT (1149 HKT)
In Taiwan, tourists pay to ride along in local cabs, letting fate -- and locals fares -- decide where they'll go.
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
It's largely devoid of human life, dark, cold and subject to dangerous levels of geological volatility -- the Arctic is surely the worst possible destination for an arts festival.
Zurich, Switzerland
It may be Switzerland's banking capital, but Zurich's real wealth lies in the village-like charm of its cobbled streets and Alpine scenery.
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 1854 GMT (0254 HKT)
We've all wondered what it's like to die. Now an outfit in Shanghai says it can provide the experience.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 0115 GMT (0915 HKT)
Our special report details who, what and how much it takes to bring you the best in IFE (we'll explain).
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 0632 GMT (1432 HKT)
What pizza is to New York and the cheesesteak is to Philly, the food truck has become to Los Angeles -- essential
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 0903 GMT (1703 HKT)
If you've ever clicked on a list of forests to see before you die, chances are you've already seen a photo of this stunner.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 0018 GMT (0818 HKT)
The military coup in Thailand has led to a massive change in Phuket, weeding out decades of misuse and abuse at one of the world's most popular holiday destinations.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0956 GMT (1756 HKT)
With a mix of Indian, African, French and Chinese influences, Mauritius represents a cultural smorgasbord.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
There's nothing like high drama on a beach.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 0957 GMT (1757 HKT)
Home to big game, sparkling beaches, and stunning sunsets, Malawi makes for an idyllic travel destination.
ADVERTISEMENT