Click to join an upcoming live event

Turn off Ads (click)

Click on your language to translate this article:

Afrikaans Afrikaans Albanian Albanian Amharic Amharic Arabic Arabic Armenian Armenian Azerbaijani Azerbaijani Basque Basque Belarusian Belarusian Bengali Bengali Bosnian Bosnian Bulgarian Bulgarian Catalan Catalan Cebuano Cebuano Chichewa Chichewa Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Traditional) Chinese (Traditional) Corsican Corsican Croatian Croatian Czech Czech Danish Danish Dutch Dutch English English Esperanto Esperanto Estonian Estonian Filipino Filipino Finnish Finnish French French Frisian Frisian Galician Galician Georgian Georgian German German Greek Greek Gujarati Gujarati Haitian Creole Haitian Creole Hausa Hausa Hawaiian Hawaiian Hebrew Hebrew Hindi Hindi Hmong Hmong Hungarian Hungarian Icelandic Icelandic Igbo Igbo Indonesian Indonesian Irish Irish Italian Italian Japanese Japanese Javanese Javanese Kannada Kannada Kazakh Kazakh Khmer Khmer Korean Korean Kurdish (Kurmanji) Kurdish (Kurmanji) Kyrgyz Kyrgyz Lao Lao Latin Latin Latvian Latvian Lithuanian Lithuanian Luxembourgish Luxembourgish Macedonian Macedonian Malagasy Malagasy Malay Malay Malayalam Malayalam Maltese Maltese Maori Maori Marathi Marathi Mongolian Mongolian Myanmar (Burmese) Myanmar (Burmese) Nepali Nepali Norwegian Norwegian Pashto Pashto Persian Persian Polish Polish Portuguese Portuguese Punjabi Punjabi Romanian Romanian Russian Russian Samoan Samoan Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic Serbian Serbian Sesotho Sesotho Shona Shona Sindhi Sindhi Sinhala Sinhala Slovak Slovak Slovenian Slovenian Somali Somali Spanish Spanish Sudanese Sudanese Swahili Swahili Swedish Swedish Tajik Tajik Tamil Tamil Telugu Telugu Thai Thai Turkish Turkish Ukrainian Ukrainian Urdu Urdu Uzbek Uzbek Vietnamese Vietnamese Welsh Welsh Xhosa Xhosa Yiddish Yiddish Yoruba Yoruba Zulu Zulu
Travel News

Service with a smile: France struggles to keep tourists happy

00_1198460506
Avatar
Written by editor

PARIS (eTN) — It has glorious architecture, fabulous museums and exquisite food but France is worried that all this may not be enough to secure its position as the world’s top tourism destination.

PARIS (eTN) — It has glorious architecture, fabulous museums and exquisite food but France is worried that all this may not be enough to secure its position as the world’s top tourism destination.

A new study shows that despite progress over recent years, France is still struggling to shed its image as an unfriendly nation of surly waiters and grumpy taxi drivers, compared to Italy and Spain, seen as more hospitable.

Some 62 percent of tourists who came to France in 2006 rated the welcome they received as “satisfactory,” up from 58 percent in 2003, according to the study by the IPSOS institute.

“There is progress, but it’s still not enough. Making tourists feel welcomed still remains the weak point of our tourism sector,” said the junior minister for tourism, Luc Chatel.

“Nowadays tourists compare a lot more, they are much more demanding and there are destinations that offer top quality customer service and this can lead to a loss of tourists for France,” he added.

The most visited country in the world, France welcomed 78 million foreign tourists in 2006, an increase of 2.7 percent from 2005, according to the tourism ministry.

France’s struggle to offer service with a smile comes amid World Tourism Organization predictions of a tourism boom, with the number of travelers worldwide expected to double to 1.6 billion by 2020.

“Hospitality means a smile from an immigration officer when you present your passport, or ‘bonjour’ from a taxi driver or a department store that offers special services for tourists,” Economy Minister Christine Lagarde told a recent conference of leaders from the hospitality industry.

The tourism ministry has brought together hotel managers, restauranteurs, airport and train authorities as well as taxi and border officials to try to improve service to foreign guests.

A study by the Maison de la France tourism promotional agency showed Italy to be ranked as “friendly and warmer than France” when it comes to welcoming tourists.

Foreigners rank France’s cultural attractions and food as its top draws while hospitality gets the last spot on the list.

Despite efforts to offer good service at airports for example, only 54 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the welcome they received upon arrival in France.

The latest push from the tourism ministry comes after Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe in July launched a charm offensive after a separate study showed Paris ranked 52nd on a list of 60 cities when it came to hospitality.

Last month the hotel industry issued an alarming report showing that one in four hotels was in a state of disrepair and that 24 percent of customers complained of rude or incompetent service.

The report by the Committee for the Modernisation of the French Hotel Trade blamed falling profit margins, badly-paid staff and conservative management for the poor state of the country’s 18,000 officially-classified hotels.

But Maison de la France director Thierry Baudier said criticism of French hospitality may be exaggerated and that if tourists keep coming, France must be doing something right.

“We can’t say that the 78 million tourists who come to France every year are all masochists,” said Baudier.

afp.google.com