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Cool, Wet British Summer A Relief For U.S. Tourists

July 15, 1988

LONDON (AP) _ While the United States bakes under record-breaking heat waves, England has been sloshing through another cool, wet summer.

The sogginess, which optimists call unseasonal, has slightly dampened the tourist trade. But for some parched visitors from the United States, it’s becoming an attraction.

According to the London Weather Center, southeast England was drenched with 1 1/2 times the average amount of rain during the first two weeks of July. Temperatures have been several degrees below normal, the center says, and there has been only 80 percent of the normal amount of sunshine.

″It’s pretty bad,″ said a spokesman at the weather office, who requested anonymity in keeping with civil service rules. ″We’ve had three fairly poor summers in a row. If we keep on going, it’ll be a fourth.″

That prospect worries some in the tourism business.

At the London Zoo, spokeswoman Sue Copsey said attendance is ″slightly down″ because of the weather. ″We’re obviously hoping that August will be nice,″ she said.

The sentiment is shared at Guided Tours of London, which conducts walking tours of the British capital. An employee there said because of the weather, ″We’re finding that (people are) not turning up.″

But overall, British tourism officials say, the gray skies and tepid temperatures haven’t kept foreign visitors away.

″As far as overseas visitors, the weather doesn’t affect numbers,″ said Bob Barton, an official with the British Tourist Authority. ″Most people coming to Britain expect to get bad weather.″

But bad is in the eye of the beholder.

American tourists questioned at random said they found the wet, cool London weather a welcome change from the searing heat in parts of the United States.

″I came from a 105-degree heat wave and I’m very happy to be here,″ said Joyce Fogg of Fair Lawn, N.J.

Standing in a long line outside a tourist eatery under a sky threatening yet another downpour, Ms. Fogg said she was not disappointed with London’s notoriously bad weather. ″I was told that it would be rainy,″ she said.

Her 14-year-old daughter Susan chimed in: ″I love it. It’s great to be out of the heat and be in the coolness.″

Judy Tichenor, chaperoning a group of students from Portland, Ore., admitted it would be nice to have had some sunshine. But she added: ″It hasn’t disappointed us that much. We brought umbrellas. We brought a lot of them.″

To Britons, the occasional sunny day is becoming a novelty.

But Barton, the Tourist Authority official, sees a silver lining in the rain clouds. ″For people from some parts of the world,″ he said, ″our weather is a novelty, part of the attraction.″

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