Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Might Glasgow follow Edinburgh’s anti-tourist lead?

There were some intriguing media articles concerning the ever-increasing tourist numbers arriving in Edinburgh year-on-year, especially during the days of the Festival and the Fringe.

I can confirm the effect, although it’s many years since I was a regular visitor there, either on a random basis, or during festival time, and it could be busy enough and disruptive with the numbers I joined them. I can only imagine what it’s like there now, with significant growth in both the tourist/visitor numbers, and the matching growth in performers who have to be accommodated as well.

The locals are becoming hostile…

EDINBURGH residents left frazzled by the Fringe are snapping up passive-aggressive T-shirts aimed at getting tourists out of their way.

The bright yellow garments are emblazoned with the slogan: “Please, MOVE, I live here.”

In a bid to make sure on Edinburgh residents wear the £20 T-shirts, they are delivered free to anyone with an EH postcode. Outsiders have to pay a £30 delivery charge.

Edinburgh firm Print By Hand created the T-shirt to help locals navigate their city during August, when the world’s largest arts festival comes to town.

“Please, MOVE, I live here.” Edinburgh locals snap up anti-tourist T shirts

Apparently, Festival organisers are taking note, and adopting a ‘Not our fault’ stance…

Edinburgh is at risk of being seen as ‘anti-tourist’ in the wake of campaigners raising concerns about the impact of festivals and events on the city, the chief executive of the Fringe Society has warned.

Shona McCarthy hit back at critics of what is claimed to be a growing “festivalisation” and “exploitation” of the city centre for major events, describing some of the criticisms that had been raised as “a bit weird”.

She insisted the Fringe should not be held responsible for the management of tourism numbers in the city centre, but warned the city’s welcoming reputation was “seriously in danger” due to an ongoing debate about the impact of the industry.

Edinburgh is in danger of becoming an ‘anti-tourist’ city, Fringe chief warns

While I’m happy to let them work out their own blame allocation and solution strategy, I wonder if this might pre-empt a similar response in Glasgow?

I noticed disruption last year while passing through Glasgow Green, due to the numerous large scale events held there, although I tended to be there once they were over, so only saw the after effects,

However, this year I’ve found that the Green was completely closed at one point, and I was forced to cross over to the other side of the River in order to continue my journey.

And I’ve had my access to the city centre, and even bus journeys disrupted as the streets have been closed for significant periods to allow various events and sports to be carried out.

On the one hand, this doesn’t affect me much as I don’t live or work there – on the other, if I’m only there occasionally AND have my day disrupted, then as a percentage of my time there, that become a significant number.


If the claims I’ve heard by some, that what happens in Edinburgh eventually happens in Glasgow, will an anti-tourist movement  rise in Glasgow?

It may be nice to bring all these things to the city, and that includes the growing numbers of film shoots (which lead to days of street closures and ogling celebrity watchers), but I suspect that, like Edinburghers, Glaswegians may have a tipping point, and the patience of some may run out.

Media sources such as GlasgowLive now carry regular list of street closures for these events

They affect people whether they’re interested in these things, or not.

Just a thought.

Please Move t-shirt

Please Move t-shirt


So, it may not be tourism, but only days after the last closure(s), it is yet another event that’s closing the streets in the city centre, and inconveniencing those who are not interested – or just fed up being diverted.

Several roads will be closed across the city as Glasgow City Council host a free environmental event.

The Evolution Green fleet will be taking place at the City Chambers on Friday and Saturday – showcasing the Government’s strategy to improve air quality across the UK.

Road closures in Glasgow – Council ‘Clean Air Strategies’ environmental event to take place in city centre

How long until the next set of closures?

19/08/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When polls aren’t conducted using unbiased data – things like Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games win them

I’ve come to realise few people have much of a clue when it comes to understanding the results of polls and votes on subjects where the sampling pool is not formed by a large enough sample to approach statistical neutrality, or simply be unbiased.

These days, the first thing I look at when someone shoves a survey or poll under my nose is the source of the voting.

If it comes from a organisation that can demonstrate the population sample was selected randomly, and was large enough to minimise any potential bias, I’ll consider the result seriously.

However, if it comes from a source where the participants were not random, were self-selected, too few, or suffered some other sort of bias, then I move on, and don’t take the published/claimed result seriously.

With that in mind, I managed to avoid a panic attack when I read a headline proclaiming…

Glasgow 2014 voted greatest moment for tourism in 50 years

It sounds good (or disturbing) until you look close at the voting and the result.

It wasn’t a random sample, only people who were interested voted (meaning those who didn’t like the games didn’t vote  the even down), and ‘the greatest moment’ didn’t poll more than 50% of the votes, but just the largest fraction, only 20%.

People voted Glasgow Commonwealth games as the biggest draw for tourists. Runners up included the release of Braveheart in 1995.

I’m not a great film fan, but I do seem to remember the release of Braveheart – wasn’t it seen as a joke citing Mel Gibson’s attempt at a Scottish accent, and some questionable portrayal of Scottish history?

Looking at some of the results, I don’t think I have to add anything.

To be fair (and I freely admit my bias because of the ‘Games’), but for the weird event at the top of the list, I’d probably not have any issues with this list, or the way it was created.

See the whole fantasy poll here: 50 years of great tourism moments

Greatest Scottish Poll

Greatest Scottish Poll


Let me see…

What cute graphic could I finish this fun with?

Myth Reality

Myth Reality

11/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

Ailsa Craig and St Kilda make the news

I seem to have developed a habit of spotting stories about Scotland’s islands in the media, but it seems to have been a long time since anything bubbled up in any of the stories that get fed to me.

But I spotted two appear this week

Marriage on Ailsa Craig

Ailsa Craig from Girvan © Neil Cunningham

The population of Ailsa Craig has been zero for some years, but there was an intriguing headline which noted that there had been a marriage on the island.

An adventurous couple have become the first people to wed on a remote, uninhabited Scottish island.

Jim Lindop, 60, planned the magical wedding on Ailsa Craig, off the South Ayrshire coast, in just four weeks.

And Jim, who has been with partner Angela for 20 years, decided they wanted to do ‘something a bit different’ for the big day.

The retired electronics engineer had to get special permission from the Marquess of Ailsa to hold his dream wedding — and it took some persuading.

It was the first official wedding to have taken place on the island, which was organised along with Glenapp Castle.

Via Couple become first to get married on remote island of Ailsa Craig

Given the island is in clear view of the mainland, its description as ‘remote’ is probably bringing a smile to one or two faces.

Perhaps that description would be more appropriate for the next location.

St Kilda viewpoint gains planning permission

I seem to have been following the story of a St Kilda visitor centre or viewpoint for years, and even managed to attract some ‘hate mail’ after speaking/writing in favour of the idea.

The creation of the St Kilda Way, which is due to bring people closer to the abandoned archipelago that sits on the “edge of the world”, has taken a major step forward.

A group in North Uist has received outline planning permission to build the St Kilda Viewpoint near Balemartin on the slopes of Beinn Riabhach.

The North Uist centre is one of three due to make up the St Kilda Way. PIC: Studio Hebrides Architects.

Those behind the Sealladh Hiort project claim North Uist has the best views of St Kilda, whose community was finally evacuated in 1930, from anywhere in the inhabited outer Hebrides.

The centre will offer a dramatic vantage point of St Kilda, which sits around 45 miles out into the Atlantic, with hopes to use technology – including infrared and a webcam – to connect the two sites when the poor weather inevitably rolls in.

The centre will be one of three in the Outer Hebrides to form the trail, with the centrepiece development due to be built at Uig on the Isle of Lewis. A third attraction is planned for South Harris.

The North Uist centre is expected to cost somewhere in the region of £1.5 million with an ambition to open it during 2020. Funding is being sought from early next year.

Via New St Kilda Viewpoint to bring history of island closer

The project’s dates back to at least when a 2009 public competition was held to identify the best site in the Western Isles for a “remote access” St Kilda Centre. Uig on Lewis was chosen as the main site. North Uist and South Harris would serve as satellite attractions.

Plans for Uig were revealed in 2016, and the initial budget for the Uig centre has fallen from an estimated £8 million to about £5.5 million.

St Kilda From Uig

St Kilda From Uig

Yes, it’s the little dot on the horizon.

09/01/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will the forgotten tourist target be met?

50% by 2016Ever since I first saw the decree being handed down from on high (possibly back in 2007), I’ve kept an eye on any stories that refer to tourism in Scotland.

While I wish I did, I don’t have a link to the original source as I wasn’t writing quite as carefully back in 2008, and that order for a 50% increase in tourism (revenue) by 2015 seems to have changed to 2016, so it’s still there, but has apparently gained an extra year along the way. Maybe it was quietly slipped in while no-one was looking, in case there was a recession.

I haven’t seen “50% by 2015 (or 2016)” mentioned by anyone for a while, but I’m going to stick with it until 2015 (or 2016), just to satisfy my curiosity and see if anyone stands up and takes ownership on the day, and announces that the target was (or was not) met.

Given the recent publication of the following figures, it’s odd that there was no reference to the decree, since the numbers appear to be positive:

Tourists visiting Scotland spent 20% more last year than in 2012 – a bigger hike than London and the UK as a whole.

The number of visitors was also up by 9.8% to 2.44m, spending a total of £1.68bn

Edinburgh was the biggest draw with 1.3m people staying one night or more in the city – second only to London.

Glasgow was sixth in the UK league with 515,000 visits, Aberdeen attracted 241,000 overnight tourists and Inverness 226,000.

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, hailed the “spectacular” results following a 4% rise the previous year and predicted a further increase in 2014.

Via: Tourist spend in Scotland up by 20% to £1.68bn

Despite making that impressive spend claim and percentage increase figure for only one year, that story notably omits any reference to “50% by 2015 (or 2016)”.


09/06/2014 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Perth hosts UK’s first GeoTour


The first GeoTour to be established in the UK has been created in Perthshire by Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust, together with Perth and Kinross Council, and  Forestry Commission Scotland, and the Blairgowrie and East Perthshire Tourist Association. It is only the sixteenth to have been created so far, and has been officially launched in time for Easter.

Cateran Trail:

Follow in the footsteps of The Caterans, feared cattle thieves of the Highlands who raided the rich lands of Strathardle, Glenshee and Glen Isla at the heart of Scotland. Explore the landscape and discover legends along the Cateran Trail’s old drove roads. Collect points to win a trackable geocoin.

The organisers have laid out 20 special geocaches across five stages of the 64 mile circular trail which covers woodland and forest, moor, and farmland.

Geocaching is already known to the area, after Perthshire was host to the annual UK Mega Cache event in 2010.

As you’ll see from reading the articles referred to below, geocaching has become something of a resource to be tapped and bring tourists and their wallets (or should that be credit cards nowadays) to an area, rather than be seen as something that strange people with Global Positioning Receivers do for fun. In other words, it’s been commercialised.

According to the statistics, more than 5 million people around the World are chasing geocaches, of which more than 2 million have been placed.

I’ve no idea what those number were like back in the late 1990s or early 2000s when I started to play the game, but it was little known and there was only a handful of caches to look for in Scotland, suitably far apart, and none of the trails or other targets to be chased. AS I recall, nearest was 20 miles away from home, somewhere in the Campsies. Later, I was able to walk to them.

Such things ruined the hobby for me at least, and I gave it up. To be fair, I didn’t really have the time either, since I had taken it up in order to learn more about GPS and its operation on the ground, and I was soon using old maps to locate the remains of things like Cold War sites and relics around the country, then use GPS to locate the site on the ground, which seemed rather more productive and useful that spending my time looking for boxes of… not a lot… which other people had hidden. This is much more of a challenge, since such sites were recorded in the 1950s or so, when locations had to be fixed by surveying, so were not necessarily accurate, meaning one still has to exercise some skill in correcting errors and reaching the target… if it still exists.

The problem with geocaching now is that there is no end to it. You can set yourself the target of bagging all the caches in a given area, only to find that someone has planted one or more new caches the day after you collect the last one, and that’s frustration rather than fun. But please don’t misinterpret that as me saying no-one can have fun geocaching, I’m not.

If you do try it, then please remember to be careful as some caches can be placed in locations where a moment’s carelessness or inattention can have disastrous results if you pay too much attention to the cache, and not enough to where you are.

One friend I made through geocaching suffered a tragic demise, after a momentary lapse led to his stepping off a cliff after placing a cache. This isn’t the place to cover the details, merely alert new cachers to the need for care at all times if caches are placed in potentially hazardous locations.

GPS satellite

GPS satellite

Perthshire to launch the UK’s first geocache based tour

Geo-tour launched for Cateran Trail in Perthshire | Dundee & Tayside | News | STV

Geocache treasure hunt set for historic trail – Heritage –

Geocaching – The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site

28/03/2013 Posted by | Civilian, Maps | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cognoscenti aims Classic Car events at the luxury end of the market

Classic Car tails

While I used to be able to attend many of the Classic Car events that took place around Scotland until a few years ago (and even managed to clock up a few as a participant), it looks like I would not have been able to go to any of The Cognoscenti‘s events, had they been around at the time.

Deliberately branded as a luxury group, you have to meet the following criteria:

Eligibility: The Cognoscenti events are open only to cars that meet the following criteria: Exotic sporting or luxury cars from a prestige marque, of a model in production on or before the 1st January 1973. (Pre-1973 cars from mainstream marques but with a particularly significant/interesting history may also be accepted on application).

I could manage the pre-1973 requirement easily, and probably talk my way past the other restrictions too, since I own a car which now has only two examples I am aware of remaining in Scotland (I’m not telling though, since I don’t give any details online), but even if I qualified, from attending some events as a participant when I drove a ‘prestige’ sports car marque, the bills for the hotels were crippling, so I knew I was living out of my class. But it was fun.

VisitScotland has caught on to this, and is promoting it as a tourist attraction, and given the group held an inaugural event at Billy Connolly’s Candacraig House in Aberdeenshire last year, where cars in attendance were valued at more than £15 million (see, I told you they were out of my league), it looks as if the supporting events could be a nice little earner.

Minister for Tourism Fergus Ewing added: “It is encouraging to see owners holding these popular events in Scotland providing a boost to our tourism industry in the process.”

Via New invitation-only luxury car events ‘to boost tourism’

Classic Restorations of Alyth

Possibly more interesting to anyone with a Classic that is not on the road, and finds they do not have the time to get it running, is the mention for Classic Restorations (Scotland) Ltd.

They have tied in with Cognoscenti to look after the cars attending their events.

Oddly enough, despite being able to say I have been involved with cars in Scotland for ‘decades’, and attended dozens of Vintage, Veteran, and Classic car events over those years, I had never heard of them before this. Regrettably, all I can admit to is having known a number of restorers around the Glasgow area over the period, but have seen them all slowly disappear over the years. These days, I tend to find garages and workshops that are trying to do such work, but not as experts in the field, rather just through their day-to-day skills in repairing cars in general. I often get odd looks whenever I start to peer into the back corners of workshops and similar premises I find while out wandering the streets, as it can be quite a surprise to find an E-type or similar sitting on the ramps, out of the way where it can be worked on when some spare time is available.

The odd surprise can appear too, such a small worship in the corner of Dalmarnock, where I found a small race car being completed. Sadly, that was a year or two ago, and when I passed the same door last week and popped my head in, there was the same car still sitting in the same place. Apparently untouched, the only good sign was that it appeared to clean, and did not appear to have been left to gather dust and dirt. One day, I might even ask about it… but don’t want to end up buying it!

Back to Classic Restorations, which we are told was formed 26 years ago by classic car enthusiast Charles Palmer, and has grown to employ 18 people and is able completes about 10 full restorations each year. It boasts and impressive client list too, with customers not only in the UK, but the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Via Classic car restoration firm teams up with Cognoscenti

18/02/2013 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2015 (or is it 2016?) tourism target gets boom and bust signals

50% by 2016I loved the optimism, if not the lack of science, logic, or reason, behind the plucking from this air of a target set by the Scottish Government for tourism (revenue) to be increased by 50% by 2015. (This was back in 2008, maybe even earlier, when I was so good at writing posts with proper links, sorry.)

And it was amusing to see that the date somehow moved from 2015 t0 2016, using similar magic… er… alchemy… er… science.

In light of this optimism, it’s interesting to take note of any tourism related stories that might pop up along the way, and consider if they suggest the target is likely to be hit – or missed – and we have seen a few of these stories in recent weeks.

Last Christmas Eve (2012), we learned that Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow had seen its 10 millionth visitor through its doors since since it reopened after a major refurbishment six years ago,which took three years and cost over £35 million. That particular visitor arrived  during a Christmas concert. Entry to the museum, located in the city’s west end, is free for all.

Its most popular exhibition to date has been on the work of the Glasgow Boys, a group of artists based in the city, which attracted 120,000 visitors in 2010.

See Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum tops 10 million visitors

Next was US broadcasting network CNN, which named Scotland as its top travel destination for 2013. Next was the Moroccan capital Rabat, then the Slovakian city of Kosice. Fourth place went to Sub-Saharan Africa, fifth to Gettysburg in Pennsylvania,  and sixth place was taken by Amsterdam.

See CNN names Scotland as world’s top destination

Then, the Moray coastline was listed as one of the top 20 most beautiful coastal areas on the planet. in a list produced for National Geographic.

In what was described as a massive boost for Scotland, in the world-wide ‘destinations rating’ survey, the scenic Moray coastline was voted for by experts and readers, who gave  it a higher rating than the Skeleton Coast in Namibia, and New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island.

Praised for its outstanding cliff scenery and a strong community feeling, the region was listed in the top 20 from the 99 greatest islands, coastlines and beaches.

See Moray’s coastline voted into world’s top 20 in National Geographic | Aberdeen & North | News | STV

But, Scotland’s driech grey skies remain omnipresent, and…

It was also noted that the number of tourists visiting Scotland took a sharp dive last summer, according to official figures.

The number of nights travellers spent here between July and September fell by more than 100,000 – or 12% – compared to the same period in 2011.

And, given that “50% by 2015 (oops, make that 2016)” decree issued by the Scottish Government, things don’t look so good as the amount they spent also dropped, by about £50 million, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

An alternative set of 12-month figures for the period, published by VisitScotland, suggested a 3% fall in domestic tourism visits to Scotland, as compared to the previous year, while domestic tourism expenditure fell by 2%.

However, if you like to cherry pick your reports and ignore the depressing ones, you can take comfort from an ONS International Passenger Survey, which indicated a 2% year-on-year increase in visitors to Scotland over the 12 months to September, with a 12% rise in spend.

See Visitor numbers to Scotland fall by 12%

You could also try looking at the same figures reported towards the end of last year, which did not then include the results for the Scottish tourist season, when it was reported that visitor numbers to Scotland rose by 4% in the year to June, with tourists also spending more money, according to the figures then available (which were expected to show a fall, blamed then on poor weather an economic uncertainty.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data then showed a 7% rise in overseas visitors to Scotland, but a survey by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce at the time (October 2012) suggested that more than half of hotels saw a fall in visitors during the three months to the end of September.

See Visitor numbers rise by 4% in Scotland

03/02/2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Stirling Castle is UK favourite heritage location for 2012

I was mildly surprised, and pleased of course, to see that Stirling Castle featured in a news item which announced that it was voted the UK’s favourite heritage location – and I did look twice to make sure that the report said UK, and not just Scotland.

Stirling Castle voted the UK’s favourite heritage attraction

I think that’s a pretty good result given the competition from some other castles, some of which are in places that are considered to be more important, and some of which are considered to be more romantic or attractive. The other candidates should be fairly obvious, but I won’t name them as I don’t want to start an argument.

Although Stirling Castle used to be a fairly frequent destination for a family trip during a nice weekend, I haven’t actually been inside the castle for many years, and even my more recent visits have really only been as far as the gates and the walls – as a sort of renewal of acquaintance every now and then. In fact, my most recent eyeballs have been from the M9, where the view is more like that seen in the pic selected below. I even spent a frustrating period doing some work for Wang Computers who had a facility in the grounds below the castle – frustrating because the schedule meant I never had time to visit or even look at the castle once, even though I had to drive through some of the grounds, work never finished until everything was closed every day.

There was one amusing incident, while we decided to grab something to eat after being up at the castle.

There’s a pretty good little fish and chip shop in the main road below the castle, just on the way into Stirling itself, and it lies at the bottom of a large tenement block. We’d parked quite close, and were settling down in the car, and attacking another excellent fish supper, and had no idea what was going on a few feet away. Call it intuition, but I decided to move the car away from the shop  – just to the other side of the street – and this only took a moment as there is a roundabout at the end of the road. As we carried on eating, I realised I had been unsettled by a lot of people running around, and that was why I moved. As we watched, still unable to see anything wrong, the sound of sirens announced the arrival of a squad of fire engines – and they promptly took over the spot where we had been parked a few minutes earlier, and we realised that there was, and had been, a fire underway in the tenement, right above where we had just been. Although we saw some smoke, despite the number of firefighters that appeared, it seems to have been a non-event – probably because they dealt with it quickly.

Funny thing was, despite all the fire engines and firefighters, and the fact there was actually a fire in the building above, the chip shop just carried on business as normal, and the customers just kept coming and going as if there was nothing happening.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle © kim traynor

Edinburgh takes title as Europe’s leading destination in 2012

Never one to be upstaged, the capital followed a few days later with its own achievement, and was voted the leading destination in Europe, and beat competition from London, Paris, and Barcelona to take the title.

Edinburgh named Europe’s Leading Destination

I don’t want to sound like too much of a killjoy, but the overpriced pile of rubbish they dumped at Holyrood for £430 million, the Edinburgh crowds, and traffic problems with their trams, I think I’ll be sticking with Stirling as my preferred destination now, and for the foreseeable future.

I like Edinburgh just fine, but it has been ruined in recent years.

09/10/2012 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

50% tourism revenue increase by 2015 takes a beating, and gains a year

50% tourism increase by 2015I noticed an interesting anomaly recently, and while I’m quite happy to accept it could be a mistake on my part, or even down to dyslexia (which I think I really to have a touch of), I think the real source is simply down to someone somewhere gleaning themselves an extra year to reach an unattainable target.

I seem to have started giving the official set goal of increasing tourism (revenue) in Scotland by “50% by 2015” back in 2008, when I noted Tourism bubble might be bursting :

Back in November of 2007 the Scottish Parliament’s economy, energy and tourism committee launched an inquiry into tourism, intended to find out if the target of increasing tourism revenues by 50 per cent by 2015 is realistic. In its written response to the inquiry, the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce claimed the target was set as a result of political ambition rather than a factual analysis. Since then, similar views have been expressed by those in the business.

I have little time for anything motivated by political ambition.

The target is a joke, and ever since it appeared, the media has featured stories every so often which bemoan various things like the recession, and the release of Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi to return home to die of prostate cancer, as reasons why tourists, particularly wealthy Americans (supposedly the easiest to part from the money), are not coming to Scotland in the numbers that those behind the target decreed.

Then there’s the mysterious extension of the target period by a year, from 2015 to 2016.

As noted in opening, I know I can make the odd slip, and don’t claim to be perfect, but I find it had to accept that I didn’t notice changing 2016 to 2015 when I made the little graphic to go with this recurring tale.

But 2016 it is now, and that is said to be based on having set the figure in 2006, and being given a decade to deliver it.

The quote to follow below ‘proves’ me wrong.

However, I find it also contains some interesting revelations, which are rather disturbing, considering that they are only being highlighted six years after this potentially daft target was set.

Most notable (apart from the suggestion that the target will not be met) is the suggestion that there is no existing system to work out if the 50% target has been met: “The committee also raised concern that there is currently no proper way to measure how well Scottish tourism is doing“, allied with what appears to be a suggestion to set up (yet another) new organisation so that it can be verified: “but notes the evidence from witnesses that the 50% target is not considered achievable.

Well, at least they will be able to say it is self-funding, from that 50% increase in tourist revenue that it will be counting.

A target for a 50% boost in Scotland’s tourism industry by 2016 cannot be met, the Scottish Parliament’s economy committee has warned.

The 10-year Scottish government growth plan was set in 2006, before the global economic crisis hit.

In a new report, the Holyrood committee cited industry concern the target was “not considered achievable”.

Scotland’s multibillion-pound tourism industry is said to support more than 200,000 jobs.

In 2006, the previous Scottish government, under its tourism strategy for the decade ahead, outlined its ambition for a 50% real-terms boost in tourism revenue under a plan to “keep pace with global trends over the next 10 years”.

The target was carried forward when the SNP came to power, but the cross-party Holyrood committee, which has been investigating the issue and took evidence from a range of industry figures, raised concern.

Its report stated: “The committee welcomes the ambition of setting and trying to achieve a high tourism growth target, but notes the evidence from witnesses that the 50% target is not considered achievable.”

The committee also raised concern that there is currently no proper way to measure how well Scottish tourism is doing, and urged the government to consider setting up a new system for gathering statistics and other performance-related information.

It also asked tourism agency VisitScotland to provide annual updates on whether the 50% target will actually be met, as well as a plan to deal with any shortfall.

Via BBC News – Scottish tourism target ‘may not be met’

And I get to keep writing the occasion Blog entry about this for another five… oops, sorry… six years.

It’s not the first time we have been fed preparation for failure to meet this target. It’s just a little over a year since I wrote Scottish Government tourism decree looks increasingly fragile.

27/03/2012 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

The Forth Bridge Experience – The view from 300 feet


(I got this one right! See my later post in August 2013, when Network Rail announced plans to to see this idea installed – but the price… £12 million to £15 million.)

I couldn’t let the idea of installing a viewing platform and lifts for visitors on to the Forth Bridge pass without comment.

At a time when millions are being poured down the drain to promote the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, on the basis of some fantasy known as ‘Lasting Legacy’ (promised to follow all such events, but seldom delivered afterwards), this idea is just too sensible to ever see the light of day.

But, I hope my first thoughts on this are proved wrong.

Rather than the grand ideas that attract publicity, this is sort of thing we desperately need to see more of in Scotland if it is to profit from its role as a ‘tourist trap’ now that it has no industry to speak of.

There must be (and there are) many more ideas such as this floundering around out there, too expensive for inspired individuals to finance and turn into reality without backing, but still costing just a fraction of the huge money-pits like the 2014 Games, whose high-profile, but here-today-gone-tomorrow nature, sees grabbing all the investment.

We need more smaller projects which are sustainable and here to stay, spread across the country and keeping a steady drip of visitors moving around and parting with their tourist cash, rather than big-bang one-off events that cost more to stage than they can ultimately return.

Rail chiefs are looking at the idea of building a viewing platform for visitors to be hoisted more than 300ft to the top of the Forth Rail Bridge.

Network Rail, which manages the bridge, has confirmed it is examining the feasibility of establishing visitor access.

The platform would offer impressive views of all around the Firth of Forth.

via BBC News – Plan for viewing platform at top of Forth Rail Bridge.

Also Viewing platform could turn Forth Bridge into Scotland’s Eiffel Tower | News | Edinburgh | STV

Forth Bridge

Forth Bridge no scaffolding in 2011 © James Allan


It seems the above idea made it into the news only a few days before the 122nd anniversary of the first train crossing the Forth Bridge.

You can see hundred of images of this iconic bridge, dating from its very beginnings to the present day, here:

Site Record for Forth Bridge Forth Rail Bridge; Forth Railway Bridge; River Forth; Inner Forth Estuary; Queensferry Narrows; South Queensferry; Dalmeny Digital_images

22/01/2012 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Has somebody noticed Scotland’s dark skies?

50% tourism increase by 2015It’s two years since I noted Galloway Forest Park wins Dark Sky award.

To me, given the Scottish Government’s edict of a 50% increase in the amount collected from tourists, issued a few years ago (and I think seldom referred to nowadays – other than by me, it’s a regular in this Blog), this is something unique, and which should have been jumped on as an asset, and relatively valuable USP (unique selling proposition).

But it wasn’t, at least not in any obvious way in those past two years – opportunity lost.

So called Dark Skies Tourism may be small, but it doesn’t take much to cater for enthusiasts. They bring their own equipment, which can be as simple as the naked eye, as dark skies mean that a lot can be seen compared to anywhere near a light polluted city or urban environment. What they really need is just a little organisation, hotels and guest houses that don’t make an issue of, or have silly rules about guests leaving and returning during hours of darkness. I’ve stayed in a few odd places with odd rules in the past, hopefully a thing of the past and they are all gone now, but nonetheless, for dark sky observers, it would be a disaster to land in such a place.

Light pollution

It’s not too clear, but the clip from a NASA view of the night-time Earth does show the notable difference between the north-west of Scotland, and the rest of the country.

The BBC recently made a short film on the subject:

BBC News – Dark skies tourism boosts Scottish economy

At the same time, it also covered the matter of light pollution, and referred to the annual Star Count:

BBC News – Light pollution: Is there a solution?

See also:

International Dark-Sky Association

Organisation of parties to suitable viewing places in the deserted north-west of Scotland might not be a bad idea either. I used to tour the area in search of specific historic locations, and to save time would often travel at night. Being something of an insomniac, I could make the most of daylight to explore, without wasting daylight hours on travel. However, one thing that often stopped me in my tracks was the simple act of filling my car with petrol. Sorties into some areas meant ending my days prematurely as I could only travel 300 miles on one tank of fuel. Since petrol stations are both rare in such areas, and run to shop hours (usually shut before 6 pm), trips into dry areas had to be planned to reach one before it closed, or I had to give up before running out of petrol. Seriously.

On more than one occasion, if I had been held up on the road, I had to park up in a small village and sleep in the car, waiting for the local petrol station to open up in the morning. Hard to believe for city folk used to 24/7 fuel supplies, but if I could not fill up before 6 pm, I could only go as far as the remains in my tank allowed until thing opened up the next morning – and a spare gallon in the boot didn’t help much. Id have had to go a lot further than that to get to a 24/7 garage, and I had them all logged in my GPS. This was a few years ago, so I can only assume things are even worse now, given the various media stories of more and more petrol station closures in the north as the price rises and sales fall.

Even though it seems to be missing opportunities, the numbers seem to show that visitor numbers to Scotland are rising…

However, it also warns that a closer look at the number shows that while they may be on the increase, they are not bringing in the new money the decree call for, as the rise is in staycations (people choosing to holiday at home), while the number of overseas visitors is actually dropping.

Maybe they have discovered the advantages of the staycation too.

BBC News – Rise in Scottish tourist numbers

21/01/2012 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

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