Etiquette Guide for the 2012 Olympic Games

The national tourism agency has developed a comprehensive online resource to guide everyone from hoteliers to cab drivers in offering the best customer service and meeting 'cultural' needs.  It offers advice ranging from how to pour wine for Argentinians to not winking at people from Hong Kong. The big no-no is asking a Canadian what part of America they come from.  Exuberant welcome  VisitBritain says the UK is already rated fairly highly - 14th out of 50 - in the Nation Brands Index for the quality of the welcome would-be visitors believe they will get when they come here.  But key competitors such as Canada, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands do better.  Our great landmarks won't be enough to keep tourists happy, say VisitBritain.  The VisitBritain research shows foreign visitors often find Britain's mix of cutting-edge modernity and rich cultural heritage ''fascinating'' and ''exciting.'' They see British people as ''honest,'' ''funny,' ''kind'' and ''efficient'' but in some cases they wish we offered a more exuberant welcome.  The tips have been written by VisitBritain staff, who are natives of the countries featured, and they have a wealth of insight into the places visitors come from. Here is a sample:  · A smiling Japanese person is not necessarily happy  The Japanese tend to smile when angry, embarrassed, sad or disappointed. They may think it rude if you talk to them with your hands in your pockets.  Avoid staring, as eye contact isn't generally considered polite. While sitting, try not to show the bottom of your shoes. Avoid being late for things and blowing your nose in front of someone is also likely to be considered rude.  · Be careful how you pour wine for an Argentinian  The whole process involves a number of social taboos and unless you understand them you could insult someone. For example, pouring wine backwards into a glass indicates hostility. Don't be offended by Argentinian humour, which may mildly attack your clothing or weight.  · Avoid winking at someone from Hong Kong  Winking is often considered a rude gesture. Pointing with an index finger is not advisable as this is generally used only for animals. Point with your hand open. Hong Kong Chinese are very superstitious: mentioning failure, poverty or death risks offence.  · Remember Arabs are not used to being told what to do  Visitors from the United Arab Emirates can take great offence if you appear bossy. They appreciate being looked after by staff who have been trained to understand Arab culture. For example, it is culturally insensitive to ask an Emirati whether they want bacon with their eggs or to include a half bottle of wine with the table d'hote menu.  · Do not be alarmed if South Africans announce that they were held up by robots  To a South African the word robot means traffic lights. ''Takkies'' means trainers, a barbecue is a 'braai', and ''howzit'' is an informal way of saying hello. When in a social situation with a South African do not place your thumb between your forefinger and your second finger - it is an obscene gesture.  · Don't ask a Brazilian personal questions  Steer clear especially of such issues as age, salary, or marriage to someone from Brazil, Argentina's fierce rival.  · Avoid physical contact when first meeting someone from India  Being touched or approached too closely in initial meetings can be considered offensive, even if the intention is entirely innocent or friendly. Be tolerant if Indians at first seem impolite, noisy and impatient. This is partly the result of living in chaotic cities and environments. They usually appreciate orderliness when they see it.  · When meeting Mexicans it is best not to discuss poverty, illegal aliens, earthquakes or their 1845-6 war with America  Polite topics of conversation would be Mexican culture, history, art and museums instead. When demonstrating the height of something, be aware that holding the palm face down is reserved for animals. Burping out loud is considered very rude.  · Never call a Canadian an American  Canadians may take offence if labelled American. Some Canadians get so annoyed about being mistaken for US citizens they identify themselves by wearing a maple leaf as pin badge or as a symbol on their clothing.  · Do not take offence if an Australian or a New Zealander makes a joke about ''Poms''  It is more of a friendly endearment than an intended insult.  · Avoid saying ''thank you'' to a Chinese compliment  Instead, politely deny a compliment to show humility. If you compliment a Chinese person, expect a denial in reply. The Chinese are famous for communicating by "Saying it without saying it." You will have to learn to read between the lines. Use only black and white materials for presentations, as colours have significant meanings in Chinese culture.  · When accepting thanks Koreans will typically say "No, no "  The remark should be interpreted as "You are welcome".  · Don't snap your fingers if you are with a Belgian. It may be interpreted as impolite  And avoid discussing personal matters or linguistic and political divisions within Belgium between Dutch and French speakers.  · Never imply Poles drink excessively  Despite stereotypes, Poles are not large consumers of alcohol and excessive drinking is frowned upon.  Sandie Dawe MBE, Chief Executive Officer of VisitBritain, said: ''Overseas visitors spend more than £16 billion a year in Britain, contributing massively to our economy and supporting jobs across the country.  "So giving our foreign visitors a friendly welcome is absolutely vital to our economy. With hundreds of thousands of people thinking of coming to Britain in the run up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, this new advice is just one of the ways that VisitBritain is helping the tourism industry care for their customers - wherever they come from.'' If you plan on head­ing to Lon­don for the 2012 Olympic Games here are a few Eti­quette Rules taken from an arti­cle writ­ten by the BBC

The national tourism agency has devel­oped a com­pre­hen­sive online resource to guide every­one from hote­liers to cab dri­vers in offer­ing the best cus­tomer ser­vice and meet­ing ‘cul­tural’ needs.

It offers advice rang­ing from how to pour wine for Argen­tini­ans to not wink­ing at peo­ple from Hong Kong. The big no-no is ask­ing a Cana­dian what part of Amer­ica they come from.

Exu­ber­ant welcome

Visit Britain says the UK is already rated fairly highly — 14th out of 50 — in the Nation Brands Index for the qual­ity of the wel­come would-be vis­i­tors believe they will get when they come here.

But key com­peti­tors such as Canada, Italy, Spain and the Nether­lands do better.

Our great land­marks won’t be enough to keep tourists happy, say Visit Britain.

The Visit Britain research shows for­eign vis­i­tors often find Britain’s mix of cutting-edge moder­nity and rich cul­tural her­itage ”fas­ci­nat­ing” and ”excit­ing.” They see British peo­ple as ”hon­est,” ”funny,’ ”kind” and ”effi­cient” but in some cases they wish we offered a more exu­ber­ant welcome.

The tips have been writ­ten by Visit Britain staff, who are natives of the coun­tries fea­tured, and they have a wealth of insight into the places vis­i­tors come from. Here is a sample:

· A smil­ing Japan­ese per­son is not nec­es­sar­ily happy

The Japan­ese tend to smile when angry, embar­rassed, sad or dis­ap­pointed. They may think it rude if you talk to them with your hands in your pockets.

Avoid star­ing, as eye con­tact isn’t gen­er­ally con­sid­ered polite. While sit­ting, try not to show the bot­tom of your shoes. Avoid being late for things and blow­ing your nose in front of some­one is also likely to be con­sid­ered rude.

· Be care­ful how you pour wine for an Argentinian

The whole process involves a num­ber of social taboos and unless you under­stand them you could insult some­one. For exam­ple, pour­ing wine back­wards into a glass indi­cates hos­til­ity. Don’t be offended by Argen­tin­ian humour, which may mildly attack your cloth­ing or weight.

· Avoid wink­ing at some­one from Hong Kong

Wink­ing is often con­sid­ered a rude ges­ture. Point­ing with an index fin­ger is not advis­able as this is gen­er­ally used only for ani­mals. Point with your hand open. Hong Kong Chi­nese are very super­sti­tious: men­tion­ing fail­ure, poverty or death risks offence.

· Remem­ber Arabs are not used to being told what to do

Vis­i­tors from the United Arab Emi­rates can take great offence if you appear bossy. They appre­ci­ate being looked after by staff who have been trained to under­stand Arab cul­ture. For exam­ple, it is cul­tur­ally insen­si­tive to ask an Emi­rati whether they want bacon with their eggs or to include a half bot­tle of wine with the table d’hote menu.

· Do not be alarmed if South Africans announce that they were held up by robots

To a South African the word robot means traf­fic lights. ”Takkies” means train­ers, a bar­be­cue is a ‘braai’, and ”howzit” is an infor­mal way of say­ing hello. When in a social sit­u­a­tion with a South African do not place your thumb between your fore­fin­ger and your sec­ond fin­ger — it is an obscene gesture.

· Don’t ask a Brazil­ian per­sonal questions

Steer clear espe­cially of such issues as age, salary, or mar­riage to some­one from Brazil, Argentina’s fierce rival.

· Avoid phys­i­cal con­tact when first meet­ing some­one from India

Being touched or approached too closely in ini­tial meet­ings can be con­sid­ered offen­sive, even if the inten­tion is entirely inno­cent or friendly. Be tol­er­ant if Indi­ans at first seem impo­lite, noisy and impa­tient. This is partly the result of liv­ing in chaotic cities and envi­ron­ments. They usu­ally appre­ci­ate order­li­ness when they see it.

· When meet­ing Mex­i­cans it is best not to dis­cuss poverty, ille­gal aliens, earth­quakes or their 1845–6 war with America

Polite top­ics of con­ver­sa­tion would be Mex­i­can cul­ture, his­tory, art and muse­ums instead. When demon­strat­ing the height of some­thing, be aware that hold­ing the palm face down is reserved for ani­mals. Burp­ing out loud is con­sid­ered very rude.

· Never call a Cana­dian an American

Cana­di­ans may take offence if labelled Amer­i­can. Some Cana­di­ans get so annoyed about being mis­taken for US cit­i­zens they iden­tify them­selves by wear­ing a maple leaf as pin badge or as a sym­bol on their clothing.

· Do not take offence if an Aus­tralian or a New Zealan­der makes a joke about ”Poms”

It is more of a friendly endear­ment than an intended insult.

· Avoid say­ing ”thank you” to a Chi­nese compliment

Instead, politely deny a com­pli­ment to show humil­ity. If you com­pli­ment a Chi­nese per­son, expect a denial in reply. The Chi­nese are famous for com­mu­ni­cat­ing by “Say­ing it with­out say­ing it.” You will have to learn to read between the lines. Use only black and white mate­ri­als for pre­sen­ta­tions, as colours have sig­nif­i­cant mean­ings in Chi­nese culture.

· When accept­ing thanks Kore­ans will typ­i­cally say “No, no ”

The remark should be inter­preted as “You are welcome”.

· Don’t snap your fin­gers if you are with a Bel­gian. It may be inter­preted as impolite

And avoid dis­cussing per­sonal mat­ters or lin­guis­tic and polit­i­cal divi­sions within Bel­gium between Dutch and French speakers.

· Never imply Poles drink excessively

Despite stereo­types, Poles are not large con­sumers of alco­hol and exces­sive drink­ing is frowned upon.

Sandie Dawe MBE, Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer of Visit Britain, said: ”Over­seas vis­i­tors spend more than £16 bil­lion a year in Britain, con­tribut­ing mas­sively to our econ­omy and sup­port­ing jobs across the country.

“So giv­ing our for­eign vis­i­tors a friendly wel­come is absolutely vital to our econ­omy. With hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple think­ing of com­ing to Britain in the run up to the Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games in 2012, this new advice is just one of the ways that Visit Britain is help­ing the tourism indus­try care for their cus­tomers — wher­ever they come from.” 

arti­cle writ­ten by: BBC