County Offering Tips on French Canadian Tourists

CAPE MAY, N.J. (AP) -

It helps if a waiter serving a French Canadian knows something about ice hockey. It’s absolutely essential he knows how the meal was prepared and what wine goes with it.

These tidbits are offered within a new, free course that aims to teach the Cape May hospitality industry how to make French Canadian tourists feel welcome.

The county has successfully courted Canadian tourists since 1968, but a recent push farther north, to French-speaking areas in Quebec, has created a new challenge. Many people from those regions don’t speak English, even as a second language.

And they are coming to the county in large numbers. The tourism push is working. People from Quebec made 665,900 overnight visits to New Jersey last year. Officials expect larger numbers this year, with Canada swaying from one polar vortex to another this winter.

Rachael Cox, a hospitality and tourism management student at Richard Stockton College, came up with the idea of having a course. Cox said some basic French will be taught, enough to help with directions, menu selections, check-in policies and other vacation information.

The course will also delve into French-Canadian culture.

“The goal is to have them understand the culture as it relates to hospitality and tourism,” Cox said.

Dining is a good example. Cape May County Tourism Director Diane Wieland said French Canadians have a European philosophy about dining. It is taken very seriously. They don’t want to be rushed. They want the waiter or waitress to be informed and helpful.

Wieland said the tourists are very value-conscious, and they tip based on the quality of service, starting at 10 percent and with 15 percent the top end. She noted Americans usually tip at 20 percent no matter how bad the service is.

“They don’t eat — they dine. If you rush them, which often happens in the summer, they will tip as they feel is necessary,” she said.

Just knowing this can clear up some confusion. Some locals think Canadians undertip because they are cheap, but it’s probably because the service didn’t meet their standards, she said.

The Quebec market is being courted though a media campaign and visits at trade shows.

“Explorez le Jersey Cape!” the literature proclaims. But once here, after they have been enticed, Wieland notes it is important to make them feel welcome, or “bienvenue,” as the brochure states.