TODAY

TODAY   |  July 02, 2013

Parisian officials start politeness campaign

Tourism and commerce officials in Paris are distributing pamphlets to businesses to remind them that the economy is bad and happy tourists are more important than ever, encouraging them to be polite and friendly to counter the stereotype that Parisians are rude. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports.

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>>> paris is known worldwide for the fine art , gourmet cuisine but they do have a rudeness problem. a change maybe in the air. michel michelle kosinski joins us now. good morning.

>> paris is admitting they can be rude and are turning it around. they're distributing pamphlets saying do you speak tourists, reminding them that the economy is bad and making tourists happy is more important than ever. paris takes one's breath away. and so can it's dark side . well, guess what, paris knows all about it.

>> i'm sure we will improve and our bad reputation of rudeness.

>> reporter: enter the politeness patrol. tourism guides armed with pamphlets going business to business telling them how important it is to be extra nice to visitors. all well received.

>> it's a good idea. paris has a very bad imagine.

>> reporter: she said just before whacking her boss. the booklet says japanese tourists that spend the most expect cleanliness and chinese love luxury shopping and americans are direct and like to be called by their first names. we checked in with elaine who has written from paris for the new york times for a decade.

>> they're desperate. the economy is hurting and unemployment is 10% and foreign investment is down so you have to keep tourism up.

>> reporter: even in the most popular tourist destination on the planet, nearly 30 million people visit paris every year. that's about 30,000 every single day. by 2020 10 million more a year will come and they say why not have the quality of service match the merchandise. we found the chef way ahead of his time that insists his staff speak english for the last 18 years.

>> you have to be nice with everybody.

>> reporter: you are a beautif human being .

>> thank you.

>> reporter: two speak japanese. and as a testament to the power of word of mouth japanese tourists show up every day and keep oncoming. exactly the point. they're printing tens of thousands of these and will make additions of it along with a website. word is spreading because spending a couple of days there without the cameras we don't think we have ever been in that city before and have everybody be so incredibly nice. it was almost unnerving. back to you guys.

>> michelle doing more research in paris .

>> tough assignment michelle. you asked natalie.

>> how do you say polite in french. [ speaking french ]

>> there is a word. i always thought that was a bad stereotype but they don't have a big tolerance if you don't speak the language.

>> they want you to try.

>> they don't even want you to try because you butcher their language.

>> we were asking for two bottles of water and the guy looked at us like forget about it. you want water, i'll get you water. okay. i'm sorry.

>> did you get the face.