Bloody French, taunting us with their freedom.
Those who scan with interest the important "balance of trade" figures which are from time to time published probably are not aware that the tourist traffic is of sufficient importance to form an appreciable item in those figures. For example, in 1929. the year before the depression set in, the United Kingdom bad some 700,000 visitors, who spent more than £22 millions. In the same year over a million British tourists went abroad and spent more than £32 millions. So that in an average year Great Britain has a debit balance of some £10 millions under the head of tourist traffic. Can the deficit be wiped out? Could Britain become the "playground of Europe" ? Commander Stephen King-Hall recently canvassed this possibility in a broadcast talk. He answered the question in the affirmative - "provided we are prepared to take the business of catering for the foreigner more seriously than is at present the ease." He went on to say that "at present the tourist traffic is hampered and restricted by a host of irksome regulations."
There is no doubt at all that the restrictions on the ability to obtain alcohol is one of the factors at present making against England becoming Europe's playground. Moreover, not only does the foreigner know this, but he trades on it. There recently appeared in the national Press an official advertisement issued by the French State Railways advertising Normandy and Brittany. The greater portion of the space occupied by the advertisement was given up to the invitation, "Have a drink when you want it." In smaller type appeared the following declaration : -
"Think of all the holiday restrictions you can. Now laugh. Decide to go to Normandy or Brittany. Bathe, dance, do the Casino, drink when you wish or as long as you wish. Nothing to stop you."
The relaxation of restrictions on tourist traffic should command widespread support ; to be successful, however, it must include greater freedom to obtain alcoholic refreshment."
Brewers' Journal 1934, page 307.
Tourism was one of the reasons quoted for finally breaking Britain free from annoyances like afternoon closing. Weird, isn't it, that inconvenience and annoyance of the local population was fine with the authorities for nearly a hundred years.