Europe

'Venice of the Cotswolds' village says it's being overrun by tourists

Residents of a tiny English village known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ for its little bridges now say have a tourism crisis to match after being inundated with thousands of staycationers.

Set on the River Windrush, Bourton-on-the-Water is promoted as ‘one of the prettiest villages in England’ – with its unique chocolate-box cottages and 17th century bridges allowing for an ‘ideal’ day out.

But the tourism office appears to be a victim of its own success as locals in the town of 3,200 complain they are being overrun by 10,000 tourists a day.

They compared their rural idyll to ‘Brighton beach on a bad day’ as tourists created traffic jams, blocked driveways, left behind litter and urinated in public places.

Rubbing salt into the wound, one local businessman said tourists hardly spend any money in the village.

Retired farmer Bill Limbrick, 74, told the Sunday Times: ‘Since the lockdown lifted, the place has gone berserk.’

His wife, Celia, 73, added: ‘They just keep pouring in. It’s like Brighton beach on a bad day.

‘It’s always busy in the summer, but this year it’s been much worse.’

Holidays in the UK have surged during the pandemic as travel restrictions deter people from travelling overseas.

While cities such as London are missing out on international tourism, other UK destinations say they are have been swamped – with Cornish tourism chiefs declaring the county ‘full’ and in Bournemouth a new app alerts people when beaches are full.

Bourton-on-the-Water parish council chairman Bob Hadley said the number of tourists was ‘too much for a little village to take’.

He said on one day it took an hour to get from one side of the village to the other because of a traffic jam.

Previously, many tourists came from Japan, China and America, arriving in coaches instead of cars.

Mr Hadley said: ‘Every day is like a bank holiday. It’s too much for a little village to take.

‘People are missing hospital appointments’

One local businessman, gift shop owner Nigel Payne, said ‘not enough’ tourists spent money in the village.

He said: ‘You fight your way through the village to your shop, and then you wait there patiently and quietly until someone comes in.’

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