Has Oxford become ‘tourist hell’ in summer months?

Local councillor says small city struggles to cope with summer visitor influx


Has Oxford become 'tourist hell' in summer months?

A local councillor for Oxford has described the city as "tourist hell" during the summer months.

Mary Clarkson, a Labour councillor and Lord Mayor, had a Twitter conversation in which she bemoaned the behaviour of some tourists from June to October in the famous university city, reports the Independent.

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Before heading to the Edinburgh Festival last weekend she wrote: "Some of us are coming up for a brief respite from the tourist hell of our own small city of Oxford."

She then had an online conversation with one of her followers, who said that Edinburgh was just as busy during August.

Clarkson responded: "Oxford is pretty much impossible between June-October. Cycle lanes all full of illegally parked tourist coaches and pavements blocked.

"At least we try to be considerate visitors when we go to busy places and avoid behaviour which we hate in Oxford's tourists."

The city was visited by seven million tourists in 2016, who brought in £780 million of revenue. The biggest attraction is the iconic university, which was established in the 12th century.

The Telegraph Travel's Oxford expert Gail Simmons explains the city's appeal perfectly, writing: "For many first-time visitors, Oxford means the university. The atmospheric, golden-stone colleges, clustered around medieval streets, are irresistible, and most travellers will want to peek inside at least one. The charm of college-hopping in Oxford is that each has its own special character – only apparent once you're inside – from the grandeur of Christ Church and Magdalen to the cosy intimacy of Corpus Christi."

However, the medieval heart of the city is actually very small, leaving locals sometimes frustrated.

Has Oxford become 'tourist hell' in summer months?

According to the Mail Online, Ms Clarkson explained: "I'm not opposed to tourists, just to the way that they are managed in Oxford.

"We've have huge numbers of language schools who trade off the name of Oxford University and they all start at 9am or 930am in the morning, which is when people need to be in work. People feel at their wits end when thirty students get on to a bus with a £20 note.

"Better coach parking arrangements, advising groups to walk in single file or no more than two abreast and ensuring that tour guides don't block entrances to places like the Covered Market when talking to groups would make life so much better for other people."

Speaking to the Oxford Mail, Martin Walker, marketing and development manager for Experience Oxfordshire, said: "August is the busiest month for visitors to Oxford and this does present challenges for a relatively small city.

"However visitors do bring massive economic benefits to the local economy. Each year Oxford welcomes over 6.6m people who spend over £800m in Oxford's hotels, restaurants and attraction, with one in every nine jobs in Oxford in a tourism-related industry."

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