There was a time, as the BBC1 series Rob and Rylan’s Grand Tour reminds us, when bad behaviour by British tourists abroad was largely confined to the upper classes. 

Sprigs of the aristocracy would set off for Europe, where they would buy up art and antiquities, corrupt the morals of their hosts’ wives, and contract unmentionable diseases, before returning to their country houses to spend the rest of their lives untroubled by further forays into high culture.

These days, thanks to cheap travel and the juggernaut power of social media, bad behaviour by tourists has become an equal opportunities pastime. 

Having long tolerated the invading hordes for the sake of the revenue they bring in, the residents of popular holiday destinations have finally had enough. From Majorca to Mount Fuji, locals are staging demonstrations against the disruption of their lives during the holiday season.

In Majorca, residents mounted a beach protest under the hashtag #OcupemLesNostresPlatges (“Occupy Our Beaches), complaining that the crush of summer visitors means they can’t visit their own beaches. The Majorcan protest echoes growing anti-tourist sentiment in the Canary Islands, mainland Spain, Italy, Greece and Holland. 

Local people sometimes find themselves at odds with the municipal authorities, who fear the loss of revenue – and the ensuing, equally aggrieved, catalogue of residents’ complaints – that would result from discouraging tourism. 

Manuela Canadas, a member of the Right-wing Vox party, told the Majorcan protesters that islanders whose revenue depends on tourism “cannot expect to go to the beach in July and August like we did years ago”. 

Elsewhere, regional politicians have been more sympathetic. When a screen was erected in the town of Fujikawaguchiko, in Japan, intended to discourage unmannerly tourists from taking photographs of Mount Fuji, locals were assured that it would come down when the visitors’ behaviour had improved. Undeterred, the tourists simply ripped the screen to take their pictures, causing the mayor, Hideyuki Watanabe, to describe them as “lacking morals”.

In Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Venice, the authorities are taking steps towards a more “sustainable” model of tourism. Yet the definition of “sustainable” remains elusive when it comes to balancing quality of life against income from tourism.

In Britain, where Cotswolds villages and Cornish beaches attract their own problematic hordes of visitors (remember the 84-year-old resident of picturesque Bibury who was vilified for spoiling tourists’ snaps by parking his yellow Vauxhall Corsa outside his own cottage?), the reaction to over-tourism has tended to be a very British grumbling.

But as global temperatures rise, and the drought and wildfires that recently affected tourists in Spain and Greece become regular events, the temperate UK may well find itself facing the same problems that afflict our continental neighbours. Is tourism a boon or a blight? Luckily for us, we have a little time in which to make a plan.

Apiarists united 

For the newly wealthy, the route to social success has always been to share the pastimes of the grandest people in the realm. Thus, wealthy types keen to get on with Edward VII invited the corpulent king to slaughter their game, while Queen Mary’s hosts stoically put up with her cutting down their trees and pilfering their bibelots. 

More wholesome pastimes now prevail: David Beckham, the newly appointed ambassador for King Charles’s King’s Foundation, recently mentioned comparing beekeeping tips during a visit to Highgrove

Both the King and the former footballer are keen apiarists: His Majesty’s bees live in Palladian-style hives, while Beckham produces honey (marketed as DBee’z Sticky Stuff) from hives at his Cotswolds home.

As Winnie the Pooh almost sang: “Isn’t it funny how a midfielder likes honey/Buzz! Buzz! Buzz! I wonder why he does?”

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