Essex: a county full of fake tan, hair extensions and not much else?
It's time to think again. Thanks to reality TV show, The Only Way Is Essex, it's reportedly the new must-visit destination for a weekend break.
The hit programme - which followed the exploits of a bar manager and club promoter, as well as various glamorous girls - has sent tourism in Essex soaring by 140 per cent.
Narrated by the UK's most famous Essex girl, Denise Van Outen, the show - which regularly pulled in an audience of one million viewers - has prompted a 211 per cent increase in people searching for breaks in Chelmsford, a 170 per cent rise for Clacton-on-Sea, and a 122 per cent boost in Colchester, according to travel expert Hotels.com, based on internet searches when compared with the same time last year.
Some locals have protested that the programme shows them in a bad light, but Lisa Bone, from Visit Essex, said: 'The Only Way is Essex is representative of certain areas and people - but you get that in any destination.
'We have a great mix. We have lots of bars and beauty salons, but also a great coastline and lots of countryside.'
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So would you swap the Cotswolds for Essex? Let us know below...