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Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 16:47 GMT
Britons 'give tourists cold shoulder'
The Britons were seen as unsmiling and unfriendly

Many overseas visitors find the British to be cold and aloof, with only Germany insisting the UK gives a warm welcome, a survey has revealed.

The survey, Through Other Eyes, carried out by the British Council, asked people of 13 nationalities for their impressions of the Great British public.

It questioned more than 2,500 "well educated" people from across the world about what they thought of the UK.

Four out of 10 respondents said Britons were unwelcoming to overseas visitors, although Germany said it was never given the cold shoulder.

One German questioned said: "I imagined the UK to be quite different - stricter, more conservative, more distant. But it wasn't like that.

"It was somehow warmer, more friendly. They are quite normal people like us."

British national pride is not shared abroad
But such praise was limited. A Mexican complained that English people never smiled back when you smiled at them, and a man from Brazil said: "It is impossible for an affectionate, warm Brazilian to live in a country where people hardly say hello."

Britain's pride in its music and arts was not recognised by those questioned - two-thirds thought its reputation in the arts was based more in the past than in the present.

Six out of 10 were unable to name a single British artist or performer, and the best-known contemporary British stars were Elton John and Hugh Grant.

And the most memorable images associated with the UK were an eclectic mix: the royals, rugby, kilts and castles.

British heritage was also scrutinised by the survey, with 11% saying tradition and conservatism were the UK's biggest weakness, and only 2% more finding they were one of the country's major strengths.

Model democracy

The British reputation has not been totally besmirched, however.

The UK is seen as an influential, well-administered and efficient country with a strong economy.

Nearly two-thirds said the UK was a good model of democratic government, while 75% believed the British were well-educated, and 88% said UK higher education was good.

Industry also came out on top, with eight out of 10 rating British services as "good" while 74% thought highly of managers in UK companies.
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