Something that has been mulling around in my head for a bit, because I've seen it on Instagram frequently recently, is the danger of tourists. Take, for instance, the Isle of Skye, which CNN wrote about last year, saying that the beautiful island should be avoided because of poor infrastructure and too many tourists. (I don't agree 100% with the article either!) I don't think all tourists are bad and tourism is fantastic for the economy; I'm always trying to get people to visit Scotland because it is such a gorgeous place. At the same time, tourists can be exactly what an area doesn't need.
Take, for instance, our most recent trip up to Glencoe. Glencoe is one of my favorite places in Scotland, in the world actually. I love the drive up, the winding road around Loch Lomond, the steep climb up to Rannoch Moor and then the beautiful, otherworldly scene of the moor before the massive Buachaille looms over you as the road dips and you're greeted by the Three Sisters. We've only visited Glencoe in the off-season, or early summer before the tourists really hit.
This time, we took our drive down to Glen Etive before venturing down into the Glen and being summer, the road was moderately busy. (The drive into Glen Etive is a single-track road and afford stunning vistas.) Of course, there were the usual issues with people not understanding how a one track road works...
What horrified me though was not the crazy drivers or the people all over the place (by Glen Etive standards), but rather, the way people viewed the road and surrounding area with complete distain. We saw a lady urinating on the side of the road. We saw rubbish bags piled up heaps upon heaps at the end of the road and more rubbish that people hadn't bothered to even bag up just lying around the two dumpsters. Walking around near the loch, I nearly stepped in some dog's waste that the owner failed to clean up. Normally, I leave Glen Etive feeling refreshed and moved by the beauty - this time I felt disgusted and annoyed that people would treat such a beautiful site so poorly.
Tourism is a great industry, and Scotland needs the funds that it brings it. Sadly though, this particular area isn't designed to cope with such high numbers of tourists that it's current popularity brings. What Scotland doesn't need are people who treat the scenery with such distain. Scotland already has issues with locals who can't dispose of their waste properly; it doesn't need tourists exasperating the issue.
All this to say, I don't have any grand, sweeping solutions on how to deal with the issues we encountered in Glencoe and Glen Etive, because it's down to personal responsibly for one's actions. I'm thrilled people can visit and enjoy this gorgeous part of the world, but I'm disappointed at how a few treat it so poorly and ruin it for everyone else.
So, in conclusion, treat places like they're special, because so many of them are. Take your own waste out with you. Give back to local business. Be intentional about how your travel and what you leave behind. Get outside and off the beaten track and make memories in beautiful places. Like Scotland. :)