The hotel chain, Jurys, has polled 4,000 Britons to see what they thought were the most unwelcoming cities in the UK. It will probably come as no surprise to you that London was considered to have the worst customer service. People also thought that the locals were ruder than other places. A third regularly didn’t say thank you and over half failed to smile at passers-by. Jurys concluded that this didn’t augur well for us when tourists visit us en masse for the Olympics in 2012.
Is all this a fair accusation at London or indeed, the next most unwelcoming cities of Glasgow, Bradford, Birmingham or Liverpool? What was the difference between the residents in these places and the inhabitants of the top five places that were regarded as the most welcoming, Southampton, Norwich, Exeter, Brighton and Plymouth? Have the people who voted for these places ever been there? Or are they based on stereotypes seen on TV and the media? Is this poll just based on those who have stayed at hotels in the Jurys chain? If so, maybe there is something that needs understanding about their guests?
No, I suspect that this poll tells us more about the size of these places than anything else. All of the most unwelcoming in the top five are very large cities, cities were community spirit is hard to foster. It is easier in smaller areas. All of the top 5 most welcoming places are smaller. And how are there no villages or small towns on the list for they tend to be the most welcoming of all.
In this, British Tourism Week, I don’t think we need to be too concerned about these results. Customer service is down to individuals, not towns. One person can give a place a bad name and one person can reverse it.