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Tourists. What would we do without ’em ?

Posted by Big John on May 12, 2011

David Else, the author of the ‘Lonely Planet’ warns, in the latest edition, that parts of Britain’s tourism industry “just doesn’t deliver”, and describes Britain’s restaurants, accommodation and tourist attractions  as “overpriced or lacking in quality”.

He adds that while the UK has become a great value destination for foreign visitors, thanks to the weaker pound: for us Brits … “Britain ain’t cheap”.

Now I don’t get about as much as I used to, and the only tourists spots I’ve been to recently are Bath and Brighton, and I enjoyed my visits to both cities. Perhaps I was just lucky, but I never felt that I had been ripped-off by the ‘locals’, and I must say that I met with friendly service at all times.

However, I did spend most of my working life in London, and now live close to Canterbury, one of Britain’s most popular tourist destinations, so I have had plenty of opportunities to observe the Japanese camera clickers, American culture vultures and assorted ‘innocents abroad’ who are shepherded around the ancient streets of those cities.

Most seem happy to be relieved of their dollars, euros and yen, as they enjoy the great British ‘experience’, sipping their pints of ‘Ye Olde Brown Ale’ and scoffing ‘Ye Olde Fish ‘n’ Chips’, while at the same time sorting through the bag of Chinese made ‘tourist tat’ which they just purchased from that nice Romanian ‘Cockney’ gentleman outside ‘Ye Olde Pizza Parlour’, before rejoining their air conditioned bus for the trip back to ‘Ye Olde Holiday Inn’.

Now I know that some parts of our country can be “depressing” and others “tacky” as Mr Else says, but he also says “that while expensive, some parts of Britain are still the most fascinating places in the world to explore”, so my advice to tourists visiting our shores is, get off the bus and “explore”, and stop following that bloody woman with the guide book and umbrella. If you’ve ‘done’ one cathedral, you’ve done ’em all.

OK, so there’s a chance that you may get ‘ripped off’, be offered a plate of jellied eels, not understand a word the taxi driver says, or even get to meet one or two of us hard up ‘locals’, so just remember …

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs … and avoid the people, you might better stay home”.  …  James Michener.


4 Responses to “Tourists. What would we do without ’em ?”

  1. Classof65 said

    Husband and I spent two weeks in London in September of ’96 and loved every square foot (metre?)of it. Never could figure out the bus system, but used the tube extensively as well as a cab or two. If we could ever return (and we’d love to!) we would
    1)eat lots more pub meals, including fish and chips,
    2)venture outside London, perhaps by train, and
    3)stay at a less-expensive hotel than the Grafton.
    PS Don’t know that I could eat jellied eels, though…

  2. Betty said

    My daughter and I, along with two other women friends, visited Scotland and England several years ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We went to Edinburgh, and from there, took the train to Fort William. Then, back to Edinburgh – great fun! Then, by car, on to England and the Cotswolds, where we stayed for a week in a “self-catering” cottage at Bourton-on-the-Hill. From there, we took several day trips, including one to Stratford-Upon-Avon. Touristy, yes, but fascinating, nevertheless. We attended an RST production of an Ibsen play, starring Ralph Fiennes (the name of which I can’t remember, and which nearly bored me out of my mind, and the hard seats made my butt go numb, but, still, I loved the whole trip. I wish I had made that journey years earlier. I would have returned again and again. My most favorite activity was sitting on a bench, people-watching, while my companions shopped. I think I had more fun than they did.

  3. Ginnie said

    I love the Michener quote. It’s always amazed me how people (especially Americans) go to exotic places and yet feel most comfortable lodging in one of the “Americanized” hotels and eating at McDonalds. I loved the experience of staying in Italy’s monasteries which I did for a month about 10 years ago. Maybe I’ll meet a rich old guy who will be thrilled to finance a few more trips like that … or not !!

  4. Grannymar said

    I like to talk to the locals, everywhere I travel. If time is limited, I might take a tour of all the ‘Touristy’ places to get a general picture then spend the remainder of my time following my nose.

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