Official report encourages drunken British traveler stereotype

While staying with a friend’s family in Barcelona last year I was shocked when they told me about the stereotypical British traveler often talked about in Spanish media.

“They [British travelers] come down on cheap flights and they don’t even make hotel reservations,” said my friend’s father.
“You mean they sleep on the street?”
“No, they just stay out drinking all night and once morning comes they just take a nap on a bench. No need to pay for a hotel I guess.”

He pointed out that obviously not every British traveler behaved in this manner, yet it was unfortunate, because it gave all of them — even those with hotel reservations — a bad name. But apparently he wasn’t all that wrong. According to the annual “British Behaviour Abroad” report by the Foreign Office, excessive drinking has led to the increase in arrests of Brits traveling abroad. In Spain for example, arrests have gone up by 32% to 2,032 in the period reported.

With a powerful British pound, drinking in other countries doesn’t make a huge impact on the average Brit’s wallet, so holidays can easily turn into drinking days. In response to the report, the British tabloid the Daily Mail pointed out that “drunken and loutish holidaymakers have sent Britain’s reputation abroad plunging to new depths.” Again, we should not stereotype — I have met many Brits while traveling that don’t behave in such a manner — but maybe it’s time to consider whether or not to down that last pint. You don’t want to get arrested…

Watch out for middle-aged British binge-drinkers

Here is the question. Why do British people like to binge-drink so much? Just when you think American college students are bad, go to any British pub at about 10pm and you will probably see more drunks than at an average American fraternity house.

In addition to all the young people in Britain drinking too much, there are the middle-aged folks to worry about. A record number of middle-aged people are drinking themselves to death, according to latest figures published in The Independent. A report shows that 8,758 people died from excessive alcohol intake in 2006, twice the number in 1991. The biggest increase was among people aged 35 to 54 and among women than men.

Binge-drinking was one of the reasons why Britain decided to change their “must-drink-fast” 11pm closing time for pubs and introduced 24-hour licenses for pubs and clubs in 2005. There is no hard evidence whether binge-drinkers have transformed to 24-hour drinkers, although streets of London are still rowdier than normal after the 11pm spill-out-on-the-street tradition.