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Tourism in the UK and the Western Isles

Sep 14, 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.

For the adventurous tourist with a suitable budget there was always a visit to the unique islands of the Western Isles with the most interesting (and inaccessible) islands being at St Kilda. For the average working man choices were often limited to the annual works outing (where their places of work would close for the vacation) which was usually to somewhere not too far away.

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.

While younger tourists still opt for the typical beach and bar vacation destinations more discerning tourists, who understand the dangers of binge drinking and sunburn, tend to look for something a little more educational, inspiring and altogether more cultural. Many of the United Kingdoms' major cities seem to becoming highly popular with tourist with Liverpool being in the vanguard (Liverpool is this years Europena Capital of Culture).

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.

Also known to many as the Outer Hebrides the group, of over 200 islands, has a few which are inhabited and well known. The Isles of Harris, Lewis, North and South Uist, Barra and Benbecula are the most well known and most popular with tourists but there are several other small inhabited islands such as Scalpay which have some interesting aspects for the visitor, not least the incredible Gaelic culture (which has Celtic and Norse influences).

The Outer Hebrides have a long and fascinating history which goes back to prehistoric times. All over the islands can be seen evidence of their long gone inhabitants with the most spectacular, and most widely known, sites are the Standing Stones of Calanais. Once know as the Callanish Standing Stones they are now known in the Gaelic as are all place names. Happily the sign posts are in the Gaelic first but feature an English translation below.

Another reason why the Western Isles are becoming increasingly popular as a vacation destination is the incredible increase in interest in genealogy (tracing your family roots and ancestors). Life has always been hard in the Hebrides and for generations many young men and young families emigrated, to America, Canada and other places, in search of a better life of opportunity. During a period known as the clearances massive numbers of Scots were forcefully removed from their land and sent abroad and this means that a great many people return to the islands in search of their roots.

Most probably the main reason why so many people visit the islands of the Hebrides these days is the simple fact that they are far more accessible than they ever were before. Although the Hebrides Isles are still considered difficult to get to the fact that you can now fly to a few places there is vastly different than only a few decades ago when it could take a few days.
About the Author
If you are thinking of visiting the islands then consider booking Harris bed and breakfast or Isle of Harris B and B accommodation as Harris has access to most other islands of interest.
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