Friday, January 19, 2007

Those crazy tourists...

Since it’s a dull Friday afternoon in January, I thought I’d put up a post to give everyone a little chuckle. I found a number of articles from earlier this month about the silly questions the staff at VisitScotland have been asked by foreign tourists. I thought I would share some to brighten up your afternoon:

"What time of night does the Loch Ness monster surface and who feeds it?" A plausible enough question I suppose for someone who didn’t know much about the legend. And, let’s face it; Scotland has made a great deal of money for many years out of this fabled character. Now, what mythical product could AME Marketing think up….

"Is Edinburgh in Glasgow?" I have to admit that I am slightly surprised by this as I have come across people on my own travels who have never heard of Glasgow, only Edinburgh.

"Which bus do I get from the Orkney Islands to the Shetland Islands?" I would have thought that the clue would have been in the second part of each name.

Pointing to the isle of Iona on a map, one tourist said: "How do I get to one zero NA?" How the staff member kept a straight face at this is beyond me.

One visitor also wanted to know if there were any golf courses in the country. Clearly this visitor had not watched the Open Championship in the last few years or heard about our long, great golfing history.

A few more gems include “Can you tell me where the mountain is in Scotland?"; "Are there any curves in the roads here, or are they all straight?"; “Are there any Sheena Easton museums in Glasgow?" and "What time does the midnight train leave?" This last one I feel slightly bad at laughing at - a young boy visiting Dundee asked to meet Crocodile Dundee, the Australian film character - Aw bless!

Willie Macleod, director of VisitScotland, was quoted as saying: "Our multilingual, expert staff deal with seven million inquisitive tourists a year. Visitors' queries range from the very routine to the absolutely ridiculous and everything in between. But no matter how odd the question, we're always glad to help out." “The absolutely ridiculous” – he’s not wrong.

But, don’t get me wrong; I am not mocking our foreign visitors, they bring in a substantial amount of money to our economy. Besides, I can quite imagine that us Scots abroad ask as many idiotic questions when abroad. And, I could bet that there are as many Scots who wouldn’t be able to find many of our towns and cities on a map. Embarrassingly, I am one of them. So, I’m off tonight to dig out my atlas and start swotting up and next time I’m travelling abroad I’ll make sure I’ve swotted up on the area before I go, otherwise one of my queries might wind up in a tourist site or blog in Timbuktu or the like.

(P.S. Timbuktu is in the West African nation of Mali, and is located on the southern edge of the Sahara, north of the Niger River – just in case you are looking for some basic information before you go!)



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