Tourists visiting the UK would like pubs to stay open later than 11pm, according to a new survey.
A survey of tourists from all over the world visiting London found that Britain's pub culture was a major attraction for them but that the archaic licensing laws were one of the main downsides.
The findings came from research carried out among tourists and Londoners for the latest edition of the Lonely Planet visitors' guide to the capital.
Pub closing times were described as one of London's worst features alongside bus drivers, pigeons and queue jumping.
One person described London as "a city where most pubs close at a time when most of Europe is choosing its first course".
A spokesman for the London Tourist Board said: "We would favour longer pub opening times, as would Londoners and visitors alike, but we do recognise that this should only be the case in certain areas. We wouldn't encourage it in residential areas."
But there was some good news. People questioned by researchers praised the capital for "the variety and sheer volume" of its pubs and the pub culture.
The licensee of the Red Lion in London's Westminster, Raoul de Vaux, said he would welcome longer hours.
He said: "Tourists must find it really strange when they come to this country and have to leave a pub around 11pm."
But he added: "There are some places in London where you can get a drink after that time."
The findings are bad news for an industry that suffered a terrible year in 2001.
The September 11 attacks are still causing problems for London, with some famous attractions down on visitor numbers by almost 20 per cent.
Pubs and restaurants have also suffered because of a lack of visitors.
The latest company to reveal problems was Signature Restaurants, which owns the Belgo and Bierodrome chains.
It revealed profits have almost halved after large numbers of tourists stayed away from London.
Meanwhile, the trade has welcomed the launch of a new £40m advertising campaign aimed at attracting tourists back to the UK.
The Government is launching the advertising campaign on the back of this year's Golden Jubilee celebrations and aims to tempt more than a million foreign holidaymakers back to Britain.
The trade has called for rapid licensing reform to help it recover from recent events and is hoping a white paper will appear in the Queen's Speech in November.
Trade welcomes £40m campaign to attract tourists to UK (6 March 2002)