- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2007

PARIS (Agence France-Presse) — Paris began a charm offensive yesterday after a survey showed that, while the French capital was the most visited city in the world, it was also one of the rudest.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe opened the campaign at the Eiffel Tower, hoping to win the hearts and minds of tourists and not just their cash.

Leaflets were handed out proclaiming a “charter for the Parisian and for the visitor” in French and English, whereby the French were asked to be more friendly and visitors were asked to “respect the city.”

Parisians should “take the time to give information to visitors” and “make use of foreign language skills to reply to them in their language,” it said.

Tourists were meanwhile asked to “experience the Parisian lifestyle,” “take advantage of [their] stay to try French products” and “respect the city and use public transport.”

The campaign was initiated after a Global Market Institute study ranked the French capital as the world’s most visited city, ahead of London and Rome.

When it came to hospitality, however, Paris only made 52nd place on a list of 60 cities.

Despite that ranking, 97 percent of tourists intend to return to the city, according to a survey carried out by the Paris Tourism Office of 2,837 users of its Web site (www.parisinfo.com).

Tourism Office chief Paul Roll said the charm campaign seeks to “demolish the stereotype of the arrogant Parisian and to show capital residents how important an activity tourism is for them.”

According to the agency, 20 percent of people working in Paris are directly or indirectly dependent on the tourism industry.

Last year, 16.3 million visitors, including 9.7 million foreigners, stayed in Paris hotels. By 2020, the number of foreign tourists to the city is expected to climb to 20 million annually, according to Tourism Office figures.

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