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UK Tourism and the Western Isles in Scotland

Aug 29, 2008
The tourism industry is continually seeking out new vacation destinations to satisfy the ever increasing demands of the modern tourist however many are also taking a new interest in places which have been popular destinations of the past. The reasons for the decline in the areas popularity with tourist may not be applicable today (such reasons could include such things as wars ending). The Western Isles of Scotland are one of the most fascinating and beautiful places, in the world, which are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of folk taking vacations there.

The first tourist in Great Britain could be said to be those young men who did the "Grand Tour of Europe". Although the main aim of such a trip was to expand the mind, learning about new cultures, art and the likes it was often little more than an opportunity to meet important and/or influential people and have a wonderful time doing so.

In the United Kingdom, during the early days of the tourist industry, people generally tended to visit places not too far from where they lived or worked. Working men and women often had only the annual works outing to look forward to, which was attended by all of the employees while their work place was closed. Those of more means were able to venture further and some even went as far as traveling to the islands of St Kilda in the Western Isles of Scotland.

With the development of air travel, and its steady decrease in cost and increase in wages, many British families were now able to afford to take European vacations. Instead of taking the family to the likes of Pontins and Butlins holiday camps in the UK, families now visited beaches in Spain, the South of France and the Mediterranean. Alternatively visitors from abroad started to visit the UK and many chose to visit places with unique aspects such as the Western Isles of Scotland, which started to become extremely popular with American and Canadian visitors as a vacation destination.

Modern tourists seem to fall into two distinct groups, the typical 18-30 party animals, who go in search of the sun but end up in the bars, and those who now understand the dangers of overexposure to the sun and are in search of something a little different to the usual beach and bar vacation. UK cities seem to have increasing numbers of visitors with the like of Liverpool, which is benefiting this year with being the European Capital of Culture, being one of the most vibrant city vacation destinations.

As well as the United Kingdom being an island itself it is surrounded by a large number of smaller islands (the majority of which are uninhabited). Places like the Isle of White have, for a long time, been popular vacation destinations but more distant islands, such as the Western Isles of Scotland, are becoming incredibly popular. The Western Isles have much to offer that is simply not available elsewhere and their appeal has much to do with the many unique aspects of the islands, which include unique flora and fauna as well as some of the most spectacular scenery in the UK.

The group of islands are also known as the Outer Hebrides and this, sometimes, causes some confusion for visitors, it is even confusing for the islands' inhabitants. The islands (such as the Isle of Harris, Isle of Lewis, North and South Uist, Barra and Benbecula) have, as their main language, Gaelic (pronounced "Galick") which, although it has the same roots as other forms of Gaelic, is very different to the Irish Gaelic (pronounced "Gaylick"). The culture of the Outer Hebrides is a mix of Celtic and Norse with a major aspect being Gaelic and the region is regarded as the Gaelic heartland.

Prehistoric man has left his distinctive mark upon the islands, of the Outer Hebrides, in the form of numerous standing stones and stone circles of varying sizes. The largest stone circle is to be found at Calanais (Callanish) on the Isle of Lewis. The standing stones at Calanais are generally considered to be amongst the most important sites in Europe and they are the only example of a stone circle with avenues (forming the shape of a crucifix). Calanais is a "must see" tourist attraction.

Genealogy is another factor in the recent increases in tourism to the UK, Scotland and the Western Isles. The Scottish people are amongst the most widely traveled peoples in the world and the Hebrideans are amongst the most widely traveled in Scotland. This has resulted in a massive number of people from all around the world being able to trace their roots back to the islands. Will increases in the interest in genealogy many people are choosing to travel to the Outer Hebrides to research their family trees.

Accessibility has always been an important influencing factor in tourism and places which once seemed impossible to reach are now only a few hours away from a major conurbation. Not long ago it would take a few days hard, and dangerous, travel to reach such places as the Outer Hebrides and similar islands but today most have airports and quality road links. This is, most probably, the main reason why the islands are now a popular vacation destination.
About the Author
Visiting the Outer Hebrides. Consider the Isle of Harris which has some of the finest accommodation available such as Isle of Harris B and B (Isle of Harris bed and breakfast).
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