Residents in Kidlington have been left baffled by a recent influx of Chinese tourists visiting their ‘ordinary’ Oxfordshire village. Locals have reported that the village is now being routinely packed by hoards of Asian holidaymakers, arriving by the coach load, all for no apparent reason.
The sightseers have been making the most of their visit by posing for photographs in front gardens, against the residents parked cars and taking photos of garage doors, hanging baskets and even wheely bins (bin day on Thursday is proving extremely popular). Despite there being several thatched, and arguably more picturesque properties in the village, the tourists appear to prefer the more modern houses typical of any suburban street. Benmead Road in particular appears to be getting the brunt of the attention
It not just photographs the sightseers are interested in either. BBC News recently covered the story and spoke to one resident who commented that one tourist had asked a family member if they could mow their lawn. Another knocked on their door and asked to use the toilet. Whilst this might be deemed as an invasion of privacy, one explanation is that in China semi-detached houses are normally in gated communities and are commonly only lived in by the very rich. So chances are if a garden is open, the tourists assume it must be public space.
So why the sudden invasion? One theory is they have been told the village was in Harry Potter by a rogue tour operator. Another is that Kidlington once had its fifteen minutes of fame as a location spot on Inspector Morse. The most plausible however is that a Chinese tour company is taking them to a ‘typical Oxfordshire village’ on the way to Bicester. Whilst it comes as no surprise that Buckingham Palace is the number one tourist attraction for Chinese tourists, you may be surprised to learn that the second destination most visited in the UK by the Chinese is Bicester Village. The luxury outlet mall situated halfway between London and Birmingham attracts over 6.3 million visitors every year and it is estimated that 3 out of 4 Chinese tourists visiting the UK travel to Bicester to make the most of the cut price designer brands such as Gucci, Prada and Burberry. Via Kidlington, after bin day.