Smile, or lose our tourists

LAST UPDATED: 4 Mar, 2012 @ 19:33
Smile, or lose our tourists

GRUMPY, long faced Spaniards are being taught to be polite.

In a bid to revive the flagging tourist industry, surly, impolite locals are being told to be friendlier and smile at holidaymakers.

The initiative has been introduced in the Canary Islands as the Spring holiday season gets into full swing.

It is hoped that the friendly campaign will help fight the recession in getting more Britons over to Spain.

Taxi drivers, hotel receptionists and shopkeepers are being asked to attend “friendliness” seminars.

“We’re aware that Spaniards are not seen as overly friendly by British holidaymakers and we want to change that grumpy image”

They are also being told to learn a number of English phrases such as “Make yourself at home,” and “Have a nice day!”.

They will learn “the importance of smiling” and will be told to “demonstrate that their visit is appreciated”, said a spokesman for Lanzarote Chamber of Commerce.

Cab drivers will be reminded that they are very often the first point of contact for visitors and should do their utmost to be welcoming.

“Ensure your taxis smell nice and don’t drive too fast”, they will be told in two hour seminars aimed at all tourist industry workers.

They are also advised to know such facts as how many days of sunshine there are a year.

“A smile costs nothing and is the most effective welcome,” the guide proclaims.

The spokesman continued: “We’re aware that Spaniards are not seen as overly friendly by British holidaymakers and we want to change that grumpy image.

“If we want British tourists to keep coming back year after year, and encouraging their friends to visit, we must be cheerier and friendlier to them.”

If successful the initiative will be introduced across Spain, in a bid to stem the tide of falling visitor numbers.

Figures released this week show that 206,500 fewer British visitors came to the country last month compared to March 2008.

The 23.4 per cent drop is having a serious impact with around 11 per cent of the economy dependent on tourism.

In 2007 some 13.8 million Britons visited Spain making it the UK’s most popular overseas holiday destination.

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