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Culture clash Arab and Chinese guests pose challenges for Alpine hotels

Tourist bosses in the Bernese Alps are trying to overcome cultural differences between Swiss hosts and their visitors from China and Gulf states. (SRF/

Language problems and different habits can lead to misunderstandings and communication problems, leaving both the hotel staff and visitors feeling frustrated and unhappy. 

Swiss hoteliers, for example, have complained about Chinese visitors who sometimes use the kettles placed in their rooms to boil instant noodles, or about Arab guests whose toilet habits sometimes cause flooding.

Interlaken Tourism has been organising workshops for hotels and caterers who handle visitors with different cultural expectations. It’s an increasingly important concern as visitors from China and Arab nations increase.

Last year, Interlaken hosted 128,000 Chinese – more than double the number in 2010 – and 90,000 Arab visitors, also up from four years earlier. The number of Swiss guests during that time declined from 200,000 to 187,000.

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