100,000 Chinese tourists came to Ireland last year and Failte Ireland (the national tourism board) was well prepared.
It had held seminars on how to welcome the Chinese.
It started with the usual advice: don’t house them on the 4th floor or in rooms beginning with 4. This is like warning people in China, ‘Do not put the Irish on the 13th floor or rooms beginning with 13.’ The Chinese are likely to be more concerned about where the nearest Chinese restaurant is and the Irish with where they can get a nice cup of tea.
Other advice includes, ‘Offer documents with two hands’ and ‘Never put a business card in your pocket without looking at it.’ In fact Chinese tourists will not expect Westerners to be familiar with ancient Chinese customs that are not always observed in China.
Another: ‘Don’t discuss negative things like the weather.’ This might apply to anyone from anywhere, especially when they come to Ireland!
‘Don’t reproach them for being too noisy’ could be a request about Irish tourists abroad. Ditto for ‘Don’t consult anyone about changes in the schedule except the leader.’
However it seems the Chinese tourists like us for our clear air, blue skies, open green spaces and hospitality. (Note the ‘blue skies.’) Bord Failte didn’t mention that most Chinese tourists may never have heard of Ireland till they got here, may think they are still in England and cannot be expected to appreciate our cultural heritage as they have no idea of our history.
More importantly, they will come in groups of forty, be shepherded around in buses and unlikely to spend much as they come from a virtually cashless society where everything is paid by their ‘wechat’ phone.
Hopefully the virus threat will be gone soon and they will be back again. The easiest way to make their day is to smile at them and wave them a welcome. Just don’t do it in fours, or four times.