‘Arrogant’ Paris on Tourist Charm Offensive

PARIS ~ Paris launched a charm offensive this week aimed at foreign visitors after a survey showed that while the French capital was the most visited city in the world, it was also one of the rudest.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe launched the campaign at the Eiffel Tower, hoping to win the hearts and minds of tourists and not just their hard-earned cash.

Leaflets were handed out proclaiming a “charter for the Parisian and for the visitor” in French and English, whereby the French were asked to be more friendly and visitors were asked to “respect the city.”

Parisians should “take the time to give information to visitors” and “make use of foreign-language skills to reply to them in their language,” it said.

Tourists were, meanwhile, asked to “experience the Parisian lifestyle,” “take advantage of (their) stay to try French products” and “respect the city and use public transport.”

The campaign was launched after a Global Market Institute study ranked the French capital as the world’s most visited city, ahead of London and Rome.

When it came to hospitality, however, Paris only made 52nd place on a list of 60 cities.

In 2006, 16.3 million visitors, including 9.7 foreigners, stayed in Paris hotels. By 2020 the number of foreign tourists to the city is expected to climb to 20 million annually, according to Tourism Office figures.

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