Tips on how the hospitality industry can provide a warm welcome to overseas visitors in the run up to the 2012 Olympics have been launched by VisitBritain.
They come in a new online resource designed to help hoteliers and restaurateurs provide an efficient and helpful customer service that takes account of cultural needs.
Research carried out by VisitBritain shows that while foreign visitors see British people as honest, funny, kind and efficient, they sometimes wish we offered a more exuberant welcome.
The tips have been written by VisitBritain staff who are natives of the countries featured and so have an insight into the places visitors come from.
Sample advice includes:
\* Be careful how you pour wine for an Argentinian as the process involves a number of social taboos and unless you understand them you could insult a customer. For example, pouring wine backwards into a glass indicates hostility.
\* Avoid winking at someone from Hong Kong as it is considered a rude gesture.
\* 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.
Sandie Dawes, chief executive of VisitBritain, said that giving foreign visitors a friendly welcome is vital to the economy and supporting jobs as they spend more than £16b a year in Britain.
"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 its customers - wherever they come from."
By Janet Harmer
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