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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.
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
  • 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

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