Guidelines for British hotels: Beware indecisive Indians, don’t call Canadians American

The British tourism industry has got a fresh guide on how not to offend their foreign guests. The advice, issued as part of VisitBritain research that is sent to hotel management, tells them to not make fun of Indian accents or smile at the French discuss their country’s politics with Belgians.

According to a Mirror report, the tips also advise hotels to give Russians rooms with high ceilings because they are a tall nation and not to give superstititous people from Hong Kong rooms with four-poster beds as they associate them with ghosts. They also advise hotels and tour managers to laugh off insults from Australians as they are meant to be endearing and not necessarily offensive.

The guidelines are a throwback to Basil Fawlty, the main character of the British sitcom Fawlty Towers, played by John Cleese. 

In the TV series, Fawlty runs the titular hotel in Torquay, and is a misanthropic, paranoid bully who is desperate to belong to a higher social class. He sees the successful running of the hotel as a means of achieving this dream, yet his job requires him to be pleasant to people he despises.

And oh, by the way, the guidelines also list Indians as being amiable but with “a tendency to change their minds frequently”.

Here’s the full list of dos and don’ts that was issued to the hotels and tour operators in Britain:

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: Realise that Australian people are being endearing when they make jokes about ‘Poms’.

DO: Anticipate 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’.

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’.


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