The British have gone a long way to improve their image to when travelling and their reputation as hosts to visitors to the UK has also seen some positive change.
So in an attempt to prepare the country for the impending tsunami of international tourists due when the Summer Olympics lands on London in 2012, Britain’s national tourism agency, VisitBritain, has created an etiquette guide so everyone from taxi drivers to hotel staff can warmly welcome the hundreds of thousands of people from over 200 countries who will visit.
However, in the process of not trying to offend everyone, impressively, they did. And has subsequently set back the country a fair few years in international relations.
The guide is less about etiquette and more about stereotyping, even though it was written by expat staff members about their home countries.
Here are 10 of our favourite actual examples from the guide:
1. “Don’t question the sanity of a South African who says they were held up by robots; it means they were stuck at a traffic light”
Or maybe they’re trying to warn us about the impending robot enslavement of the human race?
2. “Don’t imply that Polish people like to drink heavily”
This coming from the English..?! Oh, ha! Ha ha! Oh, oh…[wipes tear from eye] Ha! Ha ha! oh, oh…
3. “Be aware that the French are picky in restaurants”
And? That would be why the French have arguably the best cuisine in the world and why so many top chefs in high-quality restaurants the world over are, wait for it, French.
5. “Australians are fond of foul language”
Gordon Fucking Ramsay. We rest our fucking case…ya flaming galah.
6. “Don’t show the soles of your feet to a Japanese person”
On what occasion is it ever appropriate to randomly show off the soles of your feet? Frankly, we think everyone gets offended if they have to look at someone else’s feet.
7. “Argentinians sense hostility if you pour a glass of wine backwards”
OK…how the hell do you pour wine into a glass backwards? We’d sense some kind of black magic if someone poured a glass of wine backwards.
8. “Arabs are not used to being told what to do. Visitors from the United Arab Emirates can take great offence if you appear bossy”
Yeah, ’cause if you’ve ever been to Abu Dhabi they strut around like they own the place. Oh, wait…they do.
9. “When meeting Mexicans it is best not to discuss poverty, illegal aliens, earthquakes or their 1845-6 war with America”
Uh-huh, we can see how that would still be on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
10. “Never call a Canadian an American. Some Canadians take offense at being mistaken for US citizens”
You know what, Canadians don’t take offense to anything except changing the channel when the hockey’s on.
We think they should spend less time trying to profile people and more time fixing that atrocious Olympic logo. Tell us your thoughts, do you agree with this guide to stereotypes etiquette?