I can appreciate that it is important to attract visitors, for the economy and all that. But there is always a balance to be struck between encouragement and grovelling. If Johnny Foreigner wants friendly he should go to America. There the natives are capable of wishing you a nice day without even a hint of irony. Here if someone approaches you with a wide smile and an outstretched hand you feel not warmth but deep suspicion.
I remember reading Kate Fox’s “Watching the English” a few years ago and laughed out loud at some of her sharp insights about how we natives behave on this small, damp island.
Last October, I went shopping with my wife around San Francisco during a business/recreation trip to the Bay Area. With one exception – where I got treated rather rudely by a shop assistant – I was blown away by the friendliness and helpfulness of people and how it was done without being patronising or somehow false. Yes, California has its problems these days, but I wish I could import some of the attitude there to the UK.