This article explores the changing role of figurative devices in British tourism advertising from the 1970s to 2005. The textual analysis of metaphors, puns and alliteration reveals some disadvantages in the use of these devices when addressing potential tourists. Metaphors and puns are able to influence existing textual meanings to promote a positive image of the product, but carry different degrees of ambiguity. Therefore, this complex use of linguistic devices might cause difficulties in their comprehension. Modern tourists require more explanation and information about the intangible tourism product, as consumer awareness and competence is growing rapidly. Consumers are increasingly likely to complain about misleading advertising. This might be why this study found a decrease in the amount of advertisements using metaphors over the time period investigated. When creating metaphors and puns, advertisers have to be aware of the consequential issues with their comprehension. In contrast, alliteration is a `safe' device as it still attracts consumers but does not involve any ambiguity. This study showed an increase in the use of alliteration in 2005 compared to the 1970s. This article attempts to show how the analysis of advertising texts can reveal some interesting and important issues within tourism and advertising communication, which in turn can generate further discussion.