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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 April 2006, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
England 'addicted to sex and TV'
Man outside pub
Alcohol, television and sex are national obsessions, says the guide
England is a nation of "overweight, alcopop-swilling, sex-and-celebrity obsessed television addicts", according to a travel guide.

The latest edition of the Rough Guide to England also warns potential visitors that the hearts of many towns "consist of identikit retail zones".

But it praises the nation of "animal loving, tea-drinking charity donors who thrive on irony and Radio 4".

Tourist body Enjoy England has criticised the book as "unhelpful".

In particular, Enjoy England, whose role is to attract visitors, attacked the book for saying that talking to strangers, especially in London, "can be seen as tantamount to physical assault".

The organisation's Elliott Frisby told the Daily Telegraph that any book making such a suggestion was both "unhelpful and inaccurate".

"Visitors who come here frequently comment on how, rather than stand-offish, the English are extremely helpful and welcoming," he said.

'Poor transport'

The Rough Guide also warns foreign tourists about England's "over-priced, under-funded public transport services".

Mr Frisby told the Telegraph he accepted poor public transport was an issue, but it had not stopped London from winning the 2012 Olympic Games.

There is also plenty of praise from the Rough Guide's authors, who say England is a place "where individuality and creativity flourish, fuelling a thriving pop culture and producing one of the most dynamic fashion, music and arts scenes to be found anywhere".

It tells tourists that the country's most exciting social and architectural developments are in thriving cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle.

It also praises the natural beauty of England's beaches and says they could compare with those in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

The guide's top three English beaches are Par Beach, at St Martin's on the Isles of Scilly, and Porthcurno and Polzeath, which are both in Cornwall.

It includes a list of 35 "things not to miss" in England, which include castles, tea and Bonfire Night.

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