'They are obsessed with sex and alcohol. They're not here to look at the monuments'

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The head of the Greek tourism industry has admitted that his country is now the "fashionable choice" for Britain's hooligan holiday-makers. He is blaming the trend on British television fly-on-the-wall documentaries that portray Greece as a haven for cheap drink and easy sex.

The head of the Greek tourism industry has admitted that his country is now the "fashionable choice" for Britain's hooligan holiday-makers. He is blaming the trend on British television fly-on-the-wall documentaries that portray Greece as a haven for cheap drink and easy sex.

A spate of incidents in recent weeks has left a trail of dead bodies and shell-shocked residents around the country. Last Tuesday 17-year-old Paddy Doran from Peterborough died when he was stabbed in the throat with a broken bottle during a bar room brawl in the resort of Faliraki.

A week earlier in the same resort, another Briton, Matthew Benney, 29, from Swansea, died after crawling under a rubbish lorry for a dare. The driver, Antonis Kalligas, failed to notice the prank and set the vehicle in motion. He is now facing a manslaughter charge.

"After a host of other places like Ibiza and Ayia Napa, certain Greek islands are now in fashion among those looking for a crazy time," Yiannis Patelis, the president of Greece's National Tourism Authority, told The Independent on Sunday.

Tourism is a mainstay of the Greek economy with its thousands of islands and beaches visited by more than three million Britons every year. But television programmes such as Club Reps and Greece Uncovered have led to a boom in British teenagers flocking to resorts such as Faliraki looking for cheap booze, all-night parties and easy sex, said Mr Patelis.

He has written strongly worded letters of complaint to the British ambassador, Abta and UK-based tour operator Club 18-30 in the wake of a spate of recent incidents including public sex acts, drunken assaults and Tuesday's killing.

"I made it clear that the kind of behaviour we have been witnessing is not and will not be accepted, and I have received a full apology from all parties," he said.

Faliraki, once a quiet fishing village, does not have a police station because, according to Mayor Yannis Iatrides, "until the tourists started coming four or five years ago we've never needed one". But last summer, there were a reported 34 rapes, double the 1998 figure.

"These people are not British; they are some other race," said Giorgos Giordammis who has worked in Faliraki for 24 years hiring out parasols on the beach.

"The over-30 crowd from Britain are the best tourists we get, but they have been driven out like everyone else by the 18-30 people.

"At night they line them up like soldiers and the reps march them off to specific bars and nightclubs where they encourage them to drink as much as they can. And they become like monsters obsessed with sex and alcohol."

It is understood 18 Britons appeared in court on the island of Rhodes on Friday facing charges ranging from assault to manslaughter following Paddy Doran's killing in nearby Faliraki's Q Club. They include Peter Navarro, 21, from Merseyside, who has admitted the killing. Three others have been charged with possession of ecstasy and cannabis.

In Kavos, in Corfu, three female representatives of Club 18-30 were caught on camera, by a Greek businessman, performing public sex acts on fellow employees and one holidaymaker in front of a cheering crowd, an incident that sparked outrage in Greece.

Across the rest of Europe, things appear to be getting better, according to police in major resorts in Spain and other tourist hotspots.

In Ayia Napa in Cyprus crime rates have not changed from last year but there are still three to four British stabbings every summer.

Rudi Gaston, 21, from Chigwell, Essex, was stabbed four times outside a fast-food restaurant in the resort two weeks ago suffering wounds to his colon, liver and upper lip. Two men from London, aged 21 and 20, face charges of grievous bodily harm, malicious damage, carrying a knife and causing an affray. It was the fourth stabbing in three weeks.

Police suspect that at least two of the incidents are related to the UK garage music scene, which has its summer home in the resort.

The first victim was Dylan Mills, aka Dizzee Rascal, 18, a member of So Solid Crew. He was hauled off his moped in daylight last month and stabbed just before he was due to perform at a club.

In Prague, the Czech capital, locals complain of boorish British behaviour. "This summer, women could not walk in the Old Town at night without getting harassed by loud-mouthed British pigs," said Martina Sedlackova, a student at Charles University. Hana Cermakova, speaking for the Czech Tourist Agency, said: "There are certainly more groups of young British men coming here this summer for the cheap beer, not to admire our monuments. They are very noisy and disturb residents who are trying to sleep."

But Jana Ivcicova, manager of Rocky O'Reilly's pub, welcomes the new wave of Britons. "They are on vacation, so of course they like to shout and drink. So what? They still tip," she said.

In Spain, 639 Britons are in jail, many for public order offences committed on holiday, the Foreign Office says. Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava has banned drinking on its streets and beaches.

"The trouble is that people get too drunk and can't control themselves," said a police translator at Lloret de Mar police station. "But [the English] aren't the only ones - we have trouble with German, French and Dutch tourists too."

In Dublin - a stag party hotspot among young Britons - behaviour has improved dramatically since hen and stag parties were banned in the Temple Bar area in 1998.

Additional reporting: Andrew Johnson, Dinah Spritzer, Sandrine Leveque, Leila Thackara and Marielina Mela

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