Opposition emerges as Glaswegians are asked to attend "charm school" ahead of 2014 Commonwealth Games
Wednesday, 06 June 2012
June 6 - A number of high profile figures, including Scottish actor and comic Greg Hemphill, have hit out at a plan to make around 10,000 Glaswegian taxi drivers, waiters, shopkeepers and other tourism industry workers attend "charm school" ahead of the Commonwealth Games to help them deal with the influx of international visitors.
The initiative will see a one-day course – titled "Glasgow Welcomes" – teach service staff how to be polite to thousands of Commonwealth Games visitors via various techniques, such as using positive body language and maintaining eye contact.
Participants will also be encouraged to use sayings like "have a nice day" to all visitors they encounter with the course based on customer relation principles created by the Disney Company.
The class, which costs around £25 ($38/€31) per person, will be held across Glasgow over the next two years and run by the Glasgow Tourism Service Initiative.
But Hemphill, the 42-year-old from Glasgow who is best-known for his role in the television sketch show Chewin' the Fat suggests that the idea is unnecessary and an insult to Glaswegians.
"I'm sure the initiative is well intentioned but I do think Glaswegians have a natural charm," he said.
"And if you polish off those edges too much, you're left with somebody from Edinburgh."
Hemphill's comments have been backed by Glasgow comedienne Janey Godley (pictured above), who has also questioned the merits of the project, which the participants must pay for themselves.
"Glaswegians are chatty people," said the 51-year-old, who is also an established writer.
"We don't need to be taught how to shake hands."
Despite the criticism, the project manager of the Glasgow Tourism Service Initiative Stella Callaghan has said the scheme will be of huge benefit to participants.
"The natural friendliness of Glaswegians can be a positive part of visitors' experience to Glasgow," said Callaghan.
"What we're trying to do is put a polish on that and encourage professional service as well."
The initiative has also been backed by VisitScotland, the national tourism organisation for the country.
"This initiative is truly helping to polish an entire city and, in doing so, is helping the industry make the most of these once-in-a-lifetime chances," said VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay.