Tourism in Straiton – by Sara Rowden
Researchers report that tourism is the UK’s 6th largest industry, generating £115bn/year. They also believe that tourism is the key industry for rebuilding the UK economy and generating employment, especially where it is most needed, such as rural communities. But, with over 80% of the 249,000 tourism businesses in the UK employing less than 10 people, small businesses continue to struggle.
Scottish tourism depends heavily on the country’s landscape: in a survey by Glasgow Caledonian University, 89% of visitors stated that the natural environment was important in their choice of holiday destination. It is obvious that the proposed wind farms would have an adverse visual impact on the landscape in and around Straiton, which would likely have a ‘knock on’ effect on the village’s tourism related economy.
Due to its conservation status, Straiton is a magnet for visitors interested in outdoor pursuits, and therefore relies heavily on the beauty and accessibility of the surrounding countryside. With its own waymarked paths, walkers, ramblers and cyclists flock to the village to enjoy a day out, where after taking in the stunning scenery, many stop at the tearoom or pub to re-fuel. For visitors on an extended stay, Straiton alone boasts more than 11 B&B and Self Catering establishments, managing 28 properties between them and comfortably accommodating up to 100 people per night. This doesn’t include the café, shop and pub, which also do a healthy trade with visitors.
With pressure on us by the government to lead a healthier lifestyle, outdoor tourism grows year on year. This entices holidaying tourists and outdoor education programmes all year round to Straiton and the surrounding area because of its wealth of outdoor activities, some of which include:
Fishing Walking/hiking Geo-caching Running Horse riding Shooting
Canoeing/kayaking Cycling Motorsports Birdwatching Wildlife watching
Wondering what Geo-caching is? It’s an outdoor ‘treasure hunt’ game where you use GPS to locate a ‘cache’, a modern-day type of orienteering. A cache is typically a water tight container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date found, their code name and a message. Sometimes within the box people leave trinkets to trade. There are many geocaches in and around Straiton including: Straiton Monument, Stinchar Bridge, Lochs Bradan, Riecawr, Doon and Finlas, Nick of the Balloch etc.
And motor sports? Well, there’s car and truck rallies, including the Scottish Rally, quad and enduro biking on the Galloway forest trails, to mention just a few.
Straiton is a gateway to the Galloway Forest Park. Covering over 300sq miles, this impressive Forest Park attracts over 800,000 visitors a year (see http://scottishtourismalliance.co.uk/businesses-wanted-to-boost-galloways-forest-tourism/ for more). Many of these visitors stop in Straiton en route, then take in the breathtaking views on the short drive to the Galloway Forest Park. It is an area with plenty for everyone: the Range of the Awful Hand, majestic and remote, and containing Merrick, highest mountain in the Southern Uplands; picnicking, camping, the newly named Ayrshire Alps routes for cyclists, the newly created Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere and the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park are just some of the attractions.
More and more people embrace the challenge that ‘going green’ presents, but, only where it is appropriate to do so, and the proposed wind turbines in and around Stration are wholly inappropriate. So it is no wonder that the residents of Straiton are devastated by the proposed plans, to encase the village with up to 130 wind turbines. The construction phase alone could irrevocably damage the outdoor tourism and related businesses that Straiton has worked hard to build up, so much so, that many may be forced to close permanently.
Links to recent stories on tourism and wind farms:
Tourism blown off course by turbines in the Berwickshire News
Loch Lomond national park has lodged a shock objection to windfarm plans — fearing the turbines could impact on visitors’ enjoyment of the tourist attraction: in the Lennox Herald
Scottish Natural Heritage said the value to the Scottish economy of nature-based tourism was £1.4bn a year. So how could Scotland make the most of this potential? article on tourism today on the BBC’s Scotland Tourism pages.
Tourism Alliance says Scottish wind farm claims are ‘hysterical’: article on the BBC website about evidence to Holyrood’s economy committee, which is looking into the Scottish government’s renewable energy targets.
The number of tourists visiting Scotland fell sharply last summer, according to official figures. Article on the BBC’s website about fall in tourist numbers to Scotland.