Paris Asks Its Sour Residents to Smile for Tourists

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2009 2:13 PM CDT
Tourists take pictures in front of the Eiffel tower, in Paris, France, Tuesday, July 22, 2008.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
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(Newser) – Tourism is down in the City of Lights, and the Paris tourist board thinks the city’s unfriendly reputation is to blame, Reuters reports. So it's begging the city’s populace to smile more, and has even recruited “smile ambassadors” to greet visitors near popular destinations. “We have to work on striking and simple images,” said the board’s head. “There’s nothing as telling as a smile.”

To underscore the point, hundreds of roller-skaters gathered yesterday and formed a giant smile in the city center. Tourism is down 17% in Paris since January, and a May TripAdvisor survey named the city the most overrated in Europe. Respondents’ main complaints: high prices and sour residents.