Cities around the world clean up their act to welcome tourists

September 7, 2007

As France prepares to kick off the 2007 Rugby World Cup today (3pm EST), the Guardian reports homeless have been forced to leave areas “where they might be seen by fans.” Protests against the “brutal” removals are planned for this weekend:

Malik Salemkour, deputy president of the French Human Rights League, said: “France wants to pretend these people don’t exist and make itself look beautiful instead of dealing with its problems.”

Afid, 45, homeless for 10 years, is one of the bric-a-brac collectors who restore objects found in bins and doorways in the chic areas of Paris to sell in the capital’s flea markets. For a year he has lived in a wooden shack that he built under Paris’s ring-road, with no running water.

“The police said I had to be out by Friday because of the rugby. It’s inhumane, but they want to pretend there’s no misery in Paris,” he told the Guardian.

“I’ve always hated rugby, but I really loathe it now that people can be left with no shelter.”

In China, where the 2008 Olympics will be held next summer, authorities are trying to “civilize” their cities. The BBC writes:

Such important work includes banning male taxi drivers from shaving their heads and clearing beggars from the capital’s main thoroughfares.

Beijing has also initiated “queuing day” on the 11th of each month to encourage people to wait in orderly lines.

And officials are so worried about “Beijing swearing” at football matches that one local club hired university students to teach fans how to chant politely.

Adding,

In order to make sure residents do not leave phlegm all over the city’s streets, volunteers have even been handing out special “spit bags”.

Here in New York, Bloomblerg just wants us to be friendly. Last week the city unveiled a new tourism campaign designed to soften our scruffy image abroad. “Just ask the locals,” as the campaign is called, features local celebrities, such as Julianne Moore and Robert DeNiro, at their favorite New York City spots. Now is left for the rest of us to put our best smiles forward.

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