According to France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius, French citizens must battle an age-old stereotype if they want to stay on top of the tourism industry. Earlier this month, Fabius announced a campaign to boost interest in various tourist hotspots across the country, encouraging residents to eschew the stereotypically snooty French attitude and be more polite to tourists.
Zoe Reyners, the co-founder and CEO of the public relations agency Katch & Reyners, lives in Paris and applauded what she called Fabius' "great initiative." She said competition from other picturesque European countries may have prompted it.
"I do think there was a little bit of a stress when Britain or Spain was on the verge of being more touristic countries than France," Reyners told HuffPost Live host Nancy Redd. "So I think that it was probably after this that the foreign ministry decided to start this campaign. But I do think that if French people think that tourists are more of a gift, if it becomes more of a national conscience, it will be good for the country."
Jo Piazza, the managing editor of Yahoo Travel, said the reputation of French rudeness comes from an understandable place. One thing she's taken away from her trips to the country is that French people do not "tolerate fools or absurd tourists."
"They don't love it when American tourists, in particular, are running around being loud or obnoxious or smacking you in the head with a selfie stick," she said.
But Piazza doesn't fault the French for their distaste towards unpleasant tourists. The onus should be on visitors to be more respectful when they head to a new country, she said.
"There should be a global wake-up call to tourists generally to behave better while they're traveling," Piazza said. "There should always be an effort made to try to speak the local language, even if you know you're going to mangle it. There should be a certain level of decorum."
Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation about France and its reputation among tourists here.