Saturday, September 30, 2023

Cus Luchd-Tadhail

"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." - Yogi Berra 

We made it back from Scotland.  And Scotland is just as beautiful as remembered and the locals are just as friendly.  It’s a fine country and I am proud to have Scottish ancestry (from my mother’s side …Morrisons they were.)  

The only problem is “Cus Luchd-Tadhail” :  Too Many Visitors.  I’m not sure the locals would all agree with that.  Tourism is big business in Scotland and employs a lot of people.  It is absolutely essential to those living up in the Highlands.  But it’s a mixed blessing just as it is in all popular tourist destinations. 

 And no question, Scotland has become too popular.  It began back when Queen Victoria visited the Scottish Highlands and fell in love with the area.  Upper class English families began taking holidays in Scotland. It became the thing to do.  Then as train service spread even those with less wealth and leisure time could afford to visit Scotland if only for a few days. 

 It was the Loch Ness Monster that really put Scotland on the broader tourist map.  There were local reports in the late 1800’s about sightings of some odd lizard or large salamander-like creature inhabiting the Loch on the River Ness.  But, it was the 1930’s before “the photo” and story was published.  

 The bigger tourist explosion has been driven by books, movies and television.  From Braveheart, to Harry Potter, to Outlander; Scotland has been opened up to the world.  Scotland has become a key location for television and movie production.  The increased interest in ancestry and genealogy has also contributed to Scottish tourism.  When one’s DNA connects one to the Scots as well as to the Norse invaders who stayed long enough to inter-marry, build castles and otherwise leave their mark on the place; one feels compelled to go and see. 

 So now too many people are visiting Scotland.  The crowds are made worse by the lack of service.  Brexit and Covid have left Scotland and England short-handed when it comes to service workers, most of whom used to come from eastern Europe.  It’s not unusual to see restaurants closed or only open limited hours.  Some tourist venues are not even open due to the lack of staff.  All of which squeezes more tourists into fewer places.

Will I ever go back to Scotland?  Perhaps if I live long enough and remain healthy.  But first we want to visit Italy, Spain and Germany while we can.  And there are lots of places in North America I want to visit or re-visit before it’s too late.  The Holy Land used to be on my bucket list, but I know it too suffers from “Too Many Visitors”.  I think I would prefer to keep tourist-free images in my mind.


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