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06/27/2014 08:00 am ET

France Admits It Should Be Nicer To Tourists

Tarek El Sombati via Getty Images

The French have long been known for their less-than-cuddly attitudes toward foreigners and now the country is owning up to it.

Last week, Innovation Minister Fleur Pellerin admitted France needs to change in order to be more welcoming toward tourists.

"We must rediscover the meaning of hospitality," she said at a tourism conference. "Everyone recognizes we can do better on the welcome and quality of service."

The plan starts with a warm French welcome as tourists arrive at the airport.

"The first contact is often the determining factor," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told conference attendees.

Officials also rolled out a multi-part "tourism action plan," which will focus on five areas of tourist activity like "wine" and "sports." They also announced plans to keep more restaurants and shops open on Sundays, renovate part of the famous Gare du Nord railway station, and make it easier to get to the airport from the city.

It's all designed to make sure visitors leave with a good taste -- not just one of frog legs -- in their mouth.

"An unhappy tourist is a tourist that never comes back," Fabius said at the conference.

His call to action is a step up from last year, when Parisian tourist officials circulated a manual with tips (Smile at the Chinese! Call Brits by their first names!) on making tourists feel welcome in the capital. It also follows a series of incidents in which pickpocketers dressed as tourists targeted foreign visitors.

Don't get us wrong: There are many, many reasons we already adore the land of croissants and canals. However, any improvements would make us très excited, indeed.

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