Slow Tourism has finally started to get serious attention and I'm proud that we've been pushing the concept for a couple of years now. Our tours focus on taking time out to appreciate the surroundings and really getting to know the area. I strongly believe it's the right way to go if we're to support tourism and yet tackle the thorny subject of climate change. It's undeniable that our impact on the planet is causing untold damage and the time to really make a difference is now... in fact it was probably twenty years ago!
So there's the obvious challenge of mitigating the impact we all have. Now I work in tourism and have done for the past thirteen years. We've spent a lot of time and money encouraging people from all over the world to come here and visit, do we stop? Do we tell them, 'stay at home, save your money and the environment, and go local for your adventures'? Or should Slow Tourism actually start from the moment you book your holiday? That in itself is a lot to unpack (pun unashamedly and definitely intended) and, as we all know, going slow isn't necessarily all that cheap. You can buy a return flight to most places on the continent for less than £100 if you're canny enough but rail travel in the UK is notoriously expensive. So striking a balance between affordability and green credentials is a tough one to achieve if you're on a budget.
I think it's fair to say that we should aspire to make whole experience as low impact as possible and it should be about doing what we can and being conscious of our affects on the environment. In terms of travel options, travel writers like the Man in Seat 61 do a fantastic job of showing us how cheap, efficient and enjoyable travelling by rail can be... on the continent at least. Encouraging people to stay local and not fly (for example) is arguably cutting off our noses to spite our ruddy faces. Rather, I strongly believe that encouraging everyone think hard about their impact in all aspects of their lives is the way forward. Thankfully that message is finally getting across and the likes of Greta Thunberg is helping force that down the throats of those that really do need to listen. When visitors come to see us at Loch Ness and come on the walking tours there's a strong environmental message that goes with it. Hopefully it's kept reasonably light-hearted and I try very hard not to preach. Most, if not all, our visitors are extremely receptive though and many without any prompting from me will pick up any litter they come across.
That's where we get to SlowNess. All our tours are focused on taking the time to take our time. I have had comments where customers have felt it was a bit slow but that's the point. It's not a race or a rush to get round as quickly as possible. If you've read my previous post about this; the mad A to B to C instadash between each honeypot is causing significant environmental damage and I want to avoid this as much as possible. SlowNess is about giving you the customer the time and space to properly enjoy and appreciate your surroundings. If we apply this to the rest of our time on holiday I strongly believe that this will enhance our experience but also, hopefully, restore a little bit of balance to the environment and our minds.