The true British tourism champions (no fancy campaigns required)

It was a story that led me to Aldeburgh in the first place. I recently read Scapegallows by Carol Birch, a book that follows the life of Margaret Catchpole, a feisty young lady who was twice sentenced to hang and eventually shipped off to Australia. Her true-life account is told in the context of the […]

Catalina on Vatersay: a plane wreck with more than one story

If you take a walk around the island of Vatersay in the Outer Hebrides, you’re likely to stumble upon a very interesting discovery, behind which lies a tragic tale. Just off the road (there’s really only one) as it runs around the east of the island you will find a black stone memorial, and scattered […]

Responsible tourism – who does it benefit?

I looked down from the crest of the hill, heart rate slowly settling after a draining climb in the midday heat. A patchwork of fields spread out into the far distance, with only a church spire and a few distant roofs providing a contrast to the shades of green and yellow so typical of the […]

The perils of lying to immigration officials

It’s funny how things turn out sometimes. As this story proves, you should be careful about telling jokes to strangers. Sometimes your most ridiculous fantasies can turn out to be a prophetic glimpse into the future. April 2006. I had just finished business school and, armed with my newly acquired MBA degree, I was taking […]

A very English breakfast

A shrivelled lady in her seventies, back severely arched and supported in her chair by a pile of cushions, sits just inside the entrance.  There’s a scent that’s hard to place but is reminiscent of a nursing home. “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” We are soon greeted by a lady dressed in an elegant […]

Do we really need to travel?

According to the UNWTO (UN World Tourism Organisation) there are now over 1 billion people travelling internationally each year; a number that is expected to increase sharply as more people in India and China acquire the means to go on foreign holidays. In the world of travel and tourism this travel bonanza is being embraced […]

Nan Madol: the lost city of the Pacific

Approaching Nan Madol by boat there is little sense of the scale of the ruins that are about to surround us. The choppy waves of the Pacific subside as we make our way through narrowing mangrove channels until finally we see the first basalt columns above the clear water. A moment later there is no […]

Rule 1 of basic customer service: it’s about the customer, not you

I read a recent article written by a hotel receptionist (I’ve searched through my archives to try and find a link, with no success) that had me banging my head on the desk in frustration (metaphorically, of course). The author was scathing about the inventor of rolling luggage (suitcases with wheels), saying that they had […]

How to make a tourist town

Many British cities look on with envy at places such as York, Bath and Canterbury. These tourist honey pots attract thousands of visitors every day, pouring into town to snap a few photos, eat an expensive meal at a chain restaurant and buy something from a shop they have in their own local high street. The same […]

Peseta waffles: a nostalgic look at travel before the Euro

In a small box in my living room I have 51 Austrian schillings, 2300 Italian lira, a couple of thousand Yugoslav dinar and a few Danish coins that look like Polo mints (but are probably worth a lot less). There are many other old coins with varied coatings of rust and dirt; one of these […]