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Who are the world's rudest tourists ?

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Who are the world's rudest tourists ? According to a new global survey of hoteliers, they are .....the Americans. This is a little surprising since the cliché would suggest that this prize might go to the French or possibly the Russians.

The French did come second to the Americans in the least polite category of the Expedia-Harris poll of more than 4,000 hotel managers around the world. The travel firm's survey set out to find the best tourists based on their travel traits and habits.

The Japanese are the world's easiest and most delightful tourists for hotel managers. The bottom of the 30-nation list were the Chinese (full list below). The Indians came second to bottom, followed by the French. The Americans came mid-way.

I was surprised to see the British tying for second place along with the Germans. In Protected content , the British ranked in a similar poll as the world's worst tourists. It's interesting that the British reputation is raised by their conduct outside Europe. In their own continent, they are ranked much lower.

The nationality that complains most about accommodations are the Americans. The Germans follow and the French are the third worst complainers. The Americans are the worst dressed, while the Italians are of course rated the most stylish with the French just behind.

The French top the list for financial meanness, followed by the Germans and the Dutch. There is an explanation. West Europe does not have a culture of tipping like, say the United States. In France and many other European countries a 15 percent service charge has long been automatic in restaurants, bars and cafes.

The French are also rated bottom in the list of tourists' willingness to attempt a foreign language. As le Parisien newspaper said today: "The French remain convinced that the language of Molière is universal and that it is up to the country they visit to fit in with this."

The French, surprisingly, are among the most adventurous about trying local cuisine.

Don't forget that these are views that hotel managers have formed from dealing with their clients. I suspect that public opinion in the visited countries would differ.

There are also factors that might have an impact. The French, for example, take vacations far less outside their own country than many other nations, especially their fellow Europeans. More tourists come to France than any nation in the world, including the United States. And I know that a couple of regulars here will point out that these findings are suspicious since it was apparently an internet survey carried out by an American firm.

Best tourists according to Expedia survey of hotel managers:

1. Japanese

2. German/British (tie) (The Germans were considered

the tidiest of all nationalities.)

3. Canadian (The most popular tourists in their own

country were the Canadians as well.)

4. Swiss

5. Dutch

6. Australian/Swedish (tie)

7. Belgian

8. Norwegian

9. Austrian/Danish/Finnish (tie)

10. New Zealanders

11. U.S. American/Thai (tie)

12. Irish/Czech/South African/Portugese (tie)

13. Brazilian

14. Italian/Greek/Polish (tie)

15. Turkish

16. Spanish

17. Mexican

18. Russian

19. French

20. Indian

21. Chinese

Posted by Charles Bremner on June 08, Protected content 12:30 PM in Europe, Food and cuisine, France, Internet, Life-style, the economy, The world | Permalink
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The least willing to attempt to speak in a foreign tongue are surely the Americans - not without some excuses - closely followed by the English, not least those resident in France.

Posted by: JJ | 8 Jun Protected content

Rudeness seems to correlate with complaints about the accomodations and this is a survey by hotel managers.

It may be that the Americans and French (nos. 1 and 2) expect a tidy room and efficient service and when they don't get it perhaps get a little miffed.

Posted by: Mary Fernandez | 8 Jun Protected content

When Americans complain they really mean business - they sue. Les français ne font que râler.

On a scuba-diving boat in a Bahamas resort, the nice South African skipper refused priority to another boat from the same resort, but there was no collision. An American on the boat (must have been an attorney) made sure his ass was on the next flight to Miami to be fired by the resort's headquarters.

I'm surprised the French experiment with foreign food when abroad- they always seem to complain especially about American and English food when they get home. And repeat at length how good it is to get back.
However, my local Indian restaurant was full the other night.

Posted by: qwerty | 8 Jun Protected content

doesn't surprise me about americans in this poll (world-class ethnocentrists, and language-impaired). finally we understand the strained relations among french and americans on this blog: 'birds of a feather' barely tolerate each other.

french, being the maniacs they are about fresh food, do complain about american food (i've eaten with them), probably not without some justification. you have to spend serious money here to get the type of food the french are used to everyday for much less.

and if you like tourists who flock together (speaking of 'flocking' tourists :)) and cluck endlessly about god-knows-what, you'll love the japanese, chinese and les francaises.

Posted by: azloon | 8 Jun Protected content

Americans can't hop across the Channel on a day trip, which is why I feel they have less excuse than the English for not bothering with foreign languages.

Posted by: JJ | 8 Jun Protected content

JJ - the French who cross the Channel towards the UK, they all speak perfect English then, do they? Or perfect Spanish, Italian, or German, when they cross one of those borders?
Should one only travel to countries where one speaks the language?

Posted by: dot king | 8 Jun Protected content

Since when do hotel managers know more about being rude or being polite than the average guy in the metro? Many of them are themselves very rude to customers!

This rudeness/politness issue was already discussed on this blog and it turned out to show that both rudeness and politness are very cultural. What is polite here might be rude in some other country and vice versa.

This kind of international polls are therefore completly pointless. A waste of time, money and energy organized by some tourist industry lobbies trying to make people feel guilty. Both : tourists and people who welcome them.

I am afraid hotel managers will always considere customers who pay more to be the most polite. Is Madonna polite in a hotel?

Posted by: Dominique | 8 Jun Protected content

In my experience, the French complain FAR more about the British not speaking French than about the Americans not speaking French.

Of course that must be partly because there are more British around here than Americans, but that's not the only reason.

Once I was talking to the man who was fixing the washing machine, and he complained about the British in Antibes always expecting him to speak to them in English. I said, "What about the Americans -- they don't speak much French either", and he immediately replied, "The Americans don't expect us to speak English; the Americans will go and find a translator."

A lot of French get quite indignant about the number of British who live here and don't speak French. One of the ladies in my chorus told me she wasn't going to speak English anymore with a lady who lived near her and sometimes stopped to chat when she was passing by (commenting on her flowers etc). She said, "She's lived here for twenty years! It's inexcusable!"

Posted by: Maggie | 8 Jun Protected content

As an American who has lived for 15 years in France, I'd say that neither the French nor the Americans are the rudest. As you suggest, this survey sounds a bit fishy. Or maybe times are changing and I haven't noticed. In my experience, Americans, at least those over about 35 or 40, are very polite. And the same goes for the French. Watching tourists passing through this area -- the central bit of the French Mediterranean -- I'd say that the Brits are pretty awful.

Posted by: Joan Arles | 8 Jun Protected content

The language barrier is probably the biggest barrier of all and the biggest cause of rudeness by French to Americans, by British to French etc. I have been constantly amazed by telling English residents that such and such a film is on TV that night and they say: "Is it in English?" Yet no Frenchman would ask that in England or America. They e x p e c t English to be spoken everywhere. It is a throwback from the days of Empire.
I have been banging on for years about the Dutch method of teaching foreign languages. Many Dutch people speak four, five, or six languages. Can not the arrogant British, French and Yanks climb down and study how they do it and c o p y them!

Posted by: peter kinsley Protected content | 8 Jun Protected content

This survey should be given very little credibility because it contradicts an earlier, much larger survey of 15,000 hoteliers, by the same Expedia group in Protected content . In the earlier study of 28 nationalities the French were found to be the worst tourists in Europe and the Japanese the best with the Americans second best. The French site that had an article on this survey has taken the article away. I saved a copy and have pasted it in below.
Le Français, élu pire touriste en Europe
Les Japonais seraient les touristes les plus appréciés par les hôteliers européens... et les Français les moins aimés !
Discrets, polis, respectueux, curieux… voilà l’image des Japonais auprès des hôteliers européens.. Ils les ont élus les champions du « savoir-voyager » en Europe. Un exemple : les Japonais laisseraient leurs chambres d’hôtels aussi propres qu’ à leur arrivée ! En 2nde place du classement arrivent les Américains : ils seraient ainsi très ouverts sur la gastronomie européenne, s’évertueraient à apprendre la langue du pays visité, et surtout laisseraient de généreux pourboires : les hôteliers, restaurateurs et chauffeurs de taxis les apprécient particulièrement. Les Français, eux, arrivent en queue de peloton des 28 nationalités examinées. Ils peineraient à utiliser le trio « Bonjour/ Merci/Au revoir » dans la langue du pays et arrivent en 4ème position du Top 28 des « jamais contents ». Peu chaleureux, peu ouverts sur la cuisine et la langue des pays, plutôt radins, les Français n’ont obtenu qu’une seule bonne note : ils sont après les Italiens, les plus élégants… Maigre consolation !

* Etude européenne Expedia réalisée du 10 au 24 avril Protected content de Protected content , prenant en compte 10 critères : attitude générale, politesse, volonté de parler la langue locale, intérêt pour la cuisine locale, propension à la dépense, générosité, propreté, discrétion, élégance, forte tendance à se plaindre….

Posted by: Don | 8 Jun Protected content

In my previous post on this topic I included an article in French on a Protected content (by Expedia) of 15,000 hoteliers that says the French were judged to be the worst tourists in Europe and the Americans the second best (after the Japanese). For those of you whose French is a bit rusty, here is the translation of that article. As you can read, the French were considered very resistant to trying the cuisine of other countries. This survey is almost 4 times as large as the one just done.


The French, chosen the worst tourists in Europe.

The Japanese would be the most appreciated tourists by European hoteliers … and the French the least liked.

Reserved, polite, respectful, curious .. that’s the image of the Japanese in the eyes of European hoteliers. They chose them to be the champions of the “savoir-traveler” in Europe. One example: the Japanese would leave their hotel rooms as neat as upon their arrival! In second place in the ratings are the Americans: they would be very open to European cuisine, would try to learn the local language, and especially would leave generous tips: the hoteliers, restaurateurs and taxi drivers especially appreciate that. The French are in last place in the group of 28 nationalities examined. They would have trouble using the words “Hello, Thank you, Goodbye” in the local language and were in 4th position of the 28 nationalities in terms of never being happy. Showing little friendliness, not open to cuisine and language of the local country, rather miserly, the French only obtained one good grade”: after the Italians, they are the most elegant. Meager consolation !

European study conducted by Expedia from April 10th to April 24th Protected content included 15,000 hoteliers taking into account 10 criteria: general attitude, politeness, willingness to speak the local language, interest in the local cuisine, propensity to spend, generosity, propriety, discretion, elegance, strong tendency to complain.

Posted by: Don | 8 Jun Protected content

Peter Kinsley,

"Can not the arrogant British, French and Yanks climb down and study how they do it and c o p y them!"

I agree totally with you regarding the French. Our Education Nationale tries endlessly to "reinvent the wheel" with a very modest success up to now, instead of making a good copy and paste of the Dutch methods, provenly very successful (and as far as I know, the Dutch do not spend more money over all per capita as we do in their equivalents of our écoles primaires, collèges & lycées).

"The French remain convinced that the language of Molière is universal and that it is up to the country they visit to fit in with this." (quote of Le Parisien by Charles)

This may indeed be the opinion of a fraction of French who still did not notice that we are no more in the "Grand Siècle". But most of the French, English "trained" by our Education Nationale, have a rather modest level, so modest that they hardly DARE to speak English...

PS : this is NOT an attack against our English teachers. I am sure that they do their best with the means they have. But language teaching has always been taken by politicians and highest level brains of our Education Nationale as "la cinquième roue du carrosse". Let us hope that things are improving rapidly. A simple (simplistic?) and cost free method to improve things would be to increase drastically the "coefficient" of languages (and especially of English) at the various exams.

Posted by: Daniel Strohl | 8 Jun Protected content

This issue of languages and traveling where one speaks them not was bound to arise, I suppose.

First, within reason, it is up to the hotel or resort to accommodate the tourist as well as they can linguistically, for the tourist is the customer and pays.

Second, Americans generally (as already said) have to travel a long way before they get a language change, although the southern Spanish boundary is rapidly moving north and by Protected content USA will be a de facto bilingual nation, English and Spanish.

Thirdly, the Brits Protected content from another language) are not good at languages because they don’t see much logic in learning another language when their’s is the first language of some Protected content people and the second language for another nigh on billion (Valentin will give you the Wikirefs for this).

Fourthly, the French, although to be fair this attitude is changing and rapidly, are not so good at languages because they feel they should be in the language situation that English (well an Americanised version of it) has today.

Fifthly, tourist complaints, in my long experience of overseas travel are normally about ‘la cuisine’ from francophonic guests, room and board and room service from the Germans or Brits or Americans. The Swiss complain about both but not very often.

Not speaking the language where you are going should not be an impediment to travel but the linguistic welcome you get can mar or marvel the trip.

Capital cities seem to be the worst and are often the antithesis of other cities in the same country. The English (and French speakers from elsewhere – Belgium or Switzerland are often put off by the snotty linguistic snobbism of ‘les parisiens’) but often quite enamoured of their welcome in Lyon or Marseille or Toulouse.

Montréal and Québec seem to make an effort too! Unfortunately, I with my plodding Genevois, need a subtitle machine attached to each Québequois(e).

I think the best attitude is ‘I do not speak …. but I will try, as long as you laugh WITH me not AT me’. This works wonderfully well in many European countries. An Italian or a Spaniard or a Portuguese or a Greek (or any Balkan), Czech's, Slovaks, Poles,in my experience, genuinely takes it as a compliment if you try their language and will help you through the day.

The polyglottedness of this blog is expansive which made me wonder how the blog would respond to the following fantasy.
1)The new-found EU tourist
commission will only allow
resorts/hotels/theme parks etc.
etc. a licence if services are
provided in FOUR ‘major’ EU
languages. What choice should the
EUTC make and why?
2)All the tourist traps complain and
the EUTC has to prioritize the
languages. What should the EUTC
priorities be and why?

Posted by: richard jones | 8 Jun Protected content

Mr. Kinsley,

Could u tell us more or direct us to some source of information on the Dutch language learning method.

Posted by: richard jones | 8 Jun Protected content

Does France have a cultural code educating all men to sit while urinating?

Posted by: hygienist | 8 Jun Protected content

We're "U.S. American" now?
I'd feel worse about the U.S. being "worst dressed" if we had better bodies to show off in them.

Posted by: Kyle | 9 Jun Protected content

"Thirdly, the Brits Protected content from another language) are not good at languages because they don’t see much logic in learning another language when their’s is the first language of some Protected content people and the second language for another nigh on billion (Valentin will give you the Wikirefs for this)."

This is very true. I think that Brits should learn another language if living in another country, but as a friend of mine, who was asked by a Czech in Prague why the British don´t learn another languge, replied "which one".

Posted by: David | 9 Jun Protected content

This survey does not reflect the touristic reality at all: how about the hordes of British (and also German) who colonise holiday resorts during the summer and display the rudest and most uncivil behaviours ? I suppose these are not counted in the survey...
But please watch at Falaraki etc. on TV to see what bad tourists really are !

Posted by: quentin | 9 Jun Protected content

Being badly dressed is surely not rude, unless, of course, one goes into a church in a bikini.

After many years in France, it is true that Brits are often lacking in social skills when there. But I have seen French tourists, both in France and abroad, make me cringe at their incivility.

As for Americans and their alleged lack of foreign languages, I doubt that this is very true... Most Americans I know or have ever known, had a second language at school, very often French or Spanish, or have some family connection to a foreign language like German. And when they get a chance to use it, they do their best.

As for hotel managers and rudeness, well, I agree with the comment above. LOL Surely the Japanese are so appreciated because they are so passive! Americans travel far, too, and spend lots of money, so expect a minimum of service in return and are not shy about it. The Japanese just won't complain, period.

Posted by: valerie | 9 Jun Protected content

English have good reputation? what a joke. I m sure some eastern european coutries will probably not agree. And for not trying the local food the english are not known for being specially advanturous, if it s not burn, deep fried with chicken, pork and potatoes it s nt food.

Posted by: remy | 9 Jun Protected content

"Mr. Kinsley,

Could u tell us more or direct us to some source of information on the Dutch language learning method."
(Richard Jones)

When I first got to know the younger daughter in a Dutch family who are friends of mine, she spoke only Dutch and we talked through one of her parents or older sister acting as interpreter.
One year I noticed that she was speaking perfect English with hardly any accent and at an adult level (aged 12). She was doing this so naturally that it took me a while to notice.
When I did, I remarked upon it and asked how it had happened. The parents explained (one an international lawyer the other a judge) that in Holland nearly ALL TV is in English with subtitles and that, per force, one day, sooner or later, something clicks.
They said it had very little to do with teaching methods, but that the English gleaned from music and TV somehow added to what is being taught in school, and Hey Presto.
Now there has to be more to it than that. Both parents speak fluent English and they have lots of English-speaking colleagues, friends and acquaintances, so there is a certain level of "immersion" there too. But none of it was put donw to any school-based language teaching method.
A couple of years ago I had two Dutch brothers in school whom I was meant to be teaching French to, they had very poor English and hardly any French ever permeated the outer layers, in either of them, but their father spoke English fluently - theit mother spent most of her time in tears, they have now gone back to holland with two sons who are three years behind in an education of any sort in any language.
I have come across a taxi-driver in Greece who spoke very good English and said he'd learned it by talking to his customers (whether this was entirely true I have no way of knowing), and I have a Russian friend who speaks excellent English and more than adequate French - and these she learned at university before she'd ever left Russia.
I think someone mentioned on another thread that the Russian education system came out best or very well in language learning?

Posted by: dot king | 9 Jun Protected content

Long before TV with sub-titles I was in Amsterdam Protected content a group of schoolchildren at a bus stop gave me directions and told me they knew five languages: Dutch, German, English, French, Spanish. In each class the teacher spoke only one of these languages and they followed suit -- no Dutch allowed. I believe it is that simple.*** The parents, of course w a n t their children to be linguists ("Nobody speak Dutch!"), whereas many English parents don't give a damn. French teachers just want the kids to pass exams for their own kudos. My stepson (English) started at the Alliance Francaise in Ibiza. Youth Hostelling on the Continent with a pal (also English) they spoke German, Russia, French and Spanish with others of their age. He now speaks fluent Dutch, builds websites and is a sculptor (M.A., Edinburgh) with a globe of the world in beaten copper which spins, floodlit at night, on the banks of the Rhine in The Hague; whereas the English barman in Ibiza, who married a Dutch lady from a village where they spoke no English, just could not learn Dutch, but soon had the whole village speaking English!!
*** I shall make enquiries.

Posted by: peter kinsley Protected content | 9 Jun Protected content

Hi Dot,

The Dutch language garnering is I suspect rather more a question of 'immersion' and 'exposure' than an innovative teaching method, although I'm sure foreign language teachers in Holland are less didactic and grammar obsessive than teachers in other large countries.
I suppose by the same token this is why our Nordic, Baltic and Balkan cousins grasp English or German or French quite quickly, although for some nations in these groups their diasporic penchant would contribute largely.
So in the end it comes down to econo-culturism. Most of these countries have relatively small populations and the TV audience is not of a size to merit 'voice over' so it's subtitles and most of the films are products of the leviathan US film industry, similarly most 'teenage music' is from the same source (sauce ;-)) and is not translated into Estonian etc. etc.
I remember after the G8 fiasco in Evian which left the nearest city of any size - Geneva - carrying the bill for 'manif. damage', the Swiss wanted some remboursement from France which was not forthcoming and a diplomatic spat ensued in which the French said they would no longer
'voice over' US films for the Swiss market. I had no idea that the Swiss 'out-sourced' this but was very happy when the Swiss intimated that they thought they could probably manage for a while without this particular French 'cultural service'.
Finally folks from Holland, Denmark, Lithuania, Slovenia, Greece etc. etc., need these other languages for their professional lives. As I said the Brits and the French feel they do not. German speakers probably do not need other languages either but have a much more open attitude to knowledge than some other nations.
The Spanish, Italians and Portuguese are also fairly open, in my experience, to French, which with all the Latin roots is not a hard study and English because it is ubiquitous.
I suspect we are heading towards an EU with mother tongues and three or four other lingua franca.

Posted by: richard

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