Tourism: Guide takes `honest' look at Britain

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Britain has some of the ugliest buildings in the world and is inhabited by unwashed people with strange accents, according to a new guide published yesterday.

Wales is seen as "England's unloved backyard", Coventry is "a dismal city" and Piccadilly Circus (below) is "fume-choked and uninspiring". The British "don't understand that a good shower is one of life's basic essentials", according to The Lonely Planet Travel Survival Guide to Britain (pounds 14.99), but it adds that Britain "remains one of the most beautiful islands in the world". Minus points include "some of the grimmest and ugliest industrial and urban developments in the world", "virtually impenetrable" accents, and "woefully inadequate" plumbing.

The guide says it is prepared to list Britain's negative features because there are so many positive ones. A spokeswoman explained: "The guide gives an honest, independent account of what you can expect to find travelling around Britain. Last year, tourism to Britain increased by 17 per cent so we can't be that bad. In fact, everyone feels welcome."