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Changing times of the sandal and sock brigade.


ARE we British really the worst tourists in the world? What about those Americans who are under the possibly true impression that they rule the world?

Or what about those Germans with their pre-dawn stealth raids to annex sun-loungers with their beach towels?

No, it seems that, whatever other past impressions we've made across the globe, now hoteliers everywhere agree we are a real 24-hour nightmare.

Once we were famous for our fine manners, fair-play, understated but stylish dress, teasipping and sang froid.

Now this has been supplanted by behaviour that includes drunkenness, general rudeness and not being able to speak a word of the local lingo.

This deeply depressing judgment comes from a survey of 4,000 hoteliers running Europe's chain hotels, conducted by the travel company Expedia.

The British abroad were branded rude, messy and loud and received further criticism for eating nearly as much as the Americans (so we've still room for improvement to consolidate an unassailable top position).

The Americans, Japanese and Germans were, in comparison, the best behaved visitors.

For those of us who care about making a good impression, we have progressed in one aspect: we no longer speak more loudly and slowly to make ourselves understood.

Quite what we do instead is not revealed. Possibly just grunt.

More encouragingly, we've thrown off our stuffy sartorial image. Or at least our sandals and socks.

We beat the French when it came to the best-dressed tourists.

Is it all those fetching red, white and blue cross-designs often teamed fetchingly with shaved heads and cans of lager, do you think?

Yet this could be a short-lived triumph if, as noted, we scoff all the scran, burst out of our bloomers and roll ahead of the Americans.

My husband tells me that, after the maiden voyage of Queen Mary 2, the deck-chairs all had to be replaced.

Apparently, the French builders based the design on average French body weights, but the deck-chairs could not withstand the far heavier American passengers.

This came as quite a surprise - I'd no idea my husband was a deck-chair expert.

In spite of our many shortcomings, the European hoteliers are willing to forgive us as, guess what, money talks and we tend to spend almost as much as the Americans (and not just on food).

The Americans are the loudest on holiday, followed by the Italians and then the British in third place.

Quietest holidaymakers were the Japanese and Germans. The Americans also scored as the least polite and the Japanese as the most polite.

Chasing us up the loutish ladder are the French, Chinese, Mexican and Russian tourists.

These travellers were damned as "loud, obnoxious and unfriendly".

Perhaps as we get credit crunched and the Chinese and Russian economies expand, more of their population will travel and topple us from being best of the worst?

The Germans were given top marks for their tidiness and often left their rooms so clean and orderly there was nothing for the chambermaid to do.

If you think all these British tourists behaving badly will grow out of it, then it appears you'd be wrong.

The Foreign Office recently warned that growing numbers of over-50s were making an unwelcome spectacle of themselves while holidaying abroad.

Dubbed the "saga louts", research showed these rude oldies they were over-indulging in food and drink and being rude to locals.

Like adolescents with arrested development, these raucous prepensioners were risking their safety by drinking too much and then taking part in dangerous sports, like riding around on mopeds or zipping off on waterskis.

Such has been the onslaught of badly behaved Brits that many resorts have cracked down on their antics with a growing number of arrests.

We have received the dubious accolade of getting a police station set up in Faliraki, on the island of Rhodes, specifically to cope with the oafish behaviour of British tourists.

Alison Cooper, of Expedia, seemed very sanguine at all these damning comments about Anglo- Saxon attitudes abroad. Sounding like a teacher who thinks her charges could do better if they tried, she says: "It's clear we've still got a way to go to shed our hell-raising image while abroad.

"For anyone travelling this summer, it is worth checking with the local tourist office to find out what is appropriate to each local culture and what the big no-nos are in terms of local etiquette."

Yes, of course, that's just the kind of thoughtful behaviour that the loud, boorish, bladdered, obese Brits will be doing before they jet off on their annual deckchair crushing crusade.

Still, having got rid of them all, surely it'll be much quieter for the rest of us as we happily sit and lick our lollies through the rain and hail on Llandudno beach


Saga lout? At least he is better dressed than the French
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 6, 2008
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