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UK tourist chiefs under fire for ‘Fawlty Towers’ advice

Britain’s tourist chiefs have defended themselves after being accused of issuing ‘Fawlty Towers’ advice to hotels and incoming tour operators.

Critics say VisitBritain’s online country profiles, with ‘dos and don’ts’ for the UK tourism industry, contain too many stereotypes and generalisations and could even be considered offensive.

Following a report in the Daily Mail, the tips have been ridiculed by newspapers across the world.

Among the advice given, tourism operators and hotel staff are urged to:

– understand that Indians are amiable but tend to change their minds quite frequently

– avoid talking politics with Belgians

– find nicer alternatives to the word “no” for Japanese tourists

– don’t offend Canadians by calling them Americans

– deal promptly with any complaint from German or Austrian tourists, who can be “straightforward and demanding” to the point of “seeming rude and aggressive”

– avoid making too much eye contact or smiling at the French

– don’t give rooms with low ceilings to Russians as they are a tall nation

– don’t put superstitious people from Hong Kong in four-poster beds as they associate them with ghosts

– expect Australians to be very direct and to the point but sometimes hard to read, and don’t be offended when they joke about the ‘Poms’

– be mindful of the distance Australian visitors have travelled, as they may have not slept for 30 hours and could show signs of intolerance.

VisitBritain responded by saying: “Our wider market intelligence reports provide an unrivalled source of information on inbound tourism, allowing British businesses to gain an invaluable insight on key markets globally and helping them to tap into one of the world’s fastest growing industries.”