VisitBritain Offers Guide To Welcoming Visitors to the 2012 Olympics

The new online resource is designed to help everyone in tourism from taxi drivers to hoteliers

Britain’s tourist body has compiled a handy list of tips on how to extend an even warmer welcome to visitors coming to the UK for the 2012 Olympics.

The guidelines are tailored to various nationalities, whose customs and etiquette may vary, or even contrast with, the British way of doing things and the idea is to create an even more efficient and helpful customer service that takes account of cultural needs.

Britain rates quite highly on the “warm welcome” front compared to other countries. It ranks 14th out of 50 in the Nation Brands Index for the quality of the welcome would-be visitors believe they will get when they come here, although we’re not as good as Canada, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands apparently.

The VisitBritain research shows foreign visitors find Britain’s mix of stylish modernity and historic culture fascinating while they see Britons as ‘’honest,’’ ‘’funny,’ ‘’kind’’ and ‘’efficient’’ although at time UK residents are perceived to be slightly cooler and less exuberant than other nationalities.

Last week,VisitBritain launched its new ‘’Market Profiles’’ as part of its campaign to help enhance cultural awareness, avoid misunderstandings and boost Blighty’s performance in caring for its customers. The tips were compiled by VisitBritain staff, who come from the countries featured.

Sandie Dawe MBE, Chief Executive Officer of VisitBritain, said: ‘’Overseas visitors spend more than £16 billion a year in Britain, contributing massively to our economy and supporting jobs across the country. So giving our foreign visitors a friendly welcome is absolutely vital to our economy. With hundreds of thousands of people thinking of coming to Britain in the run up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, this new advice is just one of the ways that VisitBritain is helping the tourism industry care for their customers – wherever they come from.’’

To avoid any embarrassing faux pas, bear in mind:

* A smiling Japanese person is not necessarily happy.
* The Japanese tend to smile when angry, embarrassed, sad or disappointed.
* Avoid winking at someone from Hong Kong.
* Winking is often considered a rude gesture. Pointing with an index finger is not advisable as this is generally used only for animals.
* Remember Arabs are not used to being told what to do.
* Visitors from the United Arab Emirates can take great offence if you appear bossy and appreciate being looked after by staff who have been trained to understand Arab culture. For example, it is culturally insensitive to ask an Emirati whether they want bacon with their eggs or to include a half bottle of wine with the menu.
* Don’t ask a Brazilian personal questions.
* Steer clear especially of such issues as age, salary, or marriage.
* Avoid physical contact when first meeting someone from India.
* Being touched or approached too closely in initial meetings can be considered offensive, even if the intention is entirely innocent or friendly.
* Never assume anyone with a mild American accent is American – they could be Canadian and there is a big difference. Some Canadians get so annoyed about being mistaken for US citizens they identify themselves by wearing a maple leaf as pin badge or as a symbol on their clothing.
* Avoid saying ‘’thank you’’ to a Chinese compliment.
* When accepting thanks Koreans will typically say “No,no “.
* The remark should be interpreted as “You are welcome”.
* Avoid discussing personal matters or linguistic and political divisions within Belgium between Dutch and French speakers, a touchy subject.

GoTimeshare Staff Reporting by Fiona Klonarides

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