Greenland tourism seems to have taken off. Would I want to go now? I don’t think so. We had the best of it in 1971 and I wouldn’t want to dilute the wonderful memories.
I’m not sure that I don’t feel a bit of the same about Scotland. I liked the fact that in the 1970’s, if you chose carefully, it was rare to encounter others while out for the day or longer. This is no longer the case with at times, flocks of hill-walkers traversing the country and areas such as Skye being declared ‘full’.
For northern Scotland, road improvements to the south have come at a price. An upgraded A9 provides a highway to the start of the North Coast 500 which strikes me as a lower-cost land-based somewhat-equivalent of the Greenland coastal voyages. Both are characterised by much time and money spent on travelling, hoping to see aquatic and other wildlife but with short overnight stays that bring limited direct benefit to the communities. Of course some might opt to stay longer than one night and immerse themselves in some interesting experience or other – but I suspect many don’t. The main beneficiaries would appear to be the accommodation providers and the coastal transport or camper-van hire companies.
Northern Scotland and Greenland share other characteristics when it comes to their tourism development – both have to deal with the conflicting demands of preserving or enhancing tourism fundamentals in the face of unacceptable-to-some resource developments. In both cases the battle seems to be over.
When it came to the establishment of controversial wind farms in areas of outstanding natural beauty, the Scottish Government frequently saw fit to overrule the democratic process. Neither the public nor local regional government wanted them but their views were set aside in favour of the developer. As with most contentious issues, nothing is simple. There may be a perception of strong local benefit, but if commercial interests prevail this may be more illusory. Which is what makes the current battle between crofters on Lewis and a giant power company so engaging.
The Greenland government has gone one better, being quite open about exploitation of its mining and mineral resources as the path to an independent Greenland. Near Narsaq in the south, an Australian company is developing an opencast mine. The most controversial aspect of this is the mining of uranium. As this article reports “In a move that sounds counter-intuitive, GME is promoting its mine as a contribution to the new global green economy. According to the company, 80% of the commercial deposits in Kvanefjeld are rare earth minerals, commonly used in wind turbines, hybrid cars and lasers; uranium accounts for only 10%.” That’s alright then?
In Scotland, of particular concern to locals and tourists alike are recent moves by Highland Council. Taking their lead from the ‘fly and fleece’ policy1 of UK airports, Highland Council are embarking on a ‘flush and fleece’ policy by reducing the number of public conveniences, and for those that remain, introducing an extortionate entry charge. Already the subject of correspondence in local and national newspapers with at least one petition, campaigns of civil disobedience are being encouraged – such as by leaving entry doors wedged open. Surely, all of us value ready access to such essential facilities? I certainly do not wish to be delayed by the efforts of reading the signage and striving to locate the necessary coinage!
(1) Fly and fleece involves various measures aimed at the simple extraction of money from travellers and associates. It includes – the introduction of outrageous compulsory charges for simply dropping off or picking up passengers at airport terminals; lack of any seating pre-departure other than in expensive food and drink franchises; and the enforced circuitous routing of passengers through the unhealthy perfume laden atmosphere of retail areas in order to reach departure lounges and seats.