“The Vikings weren’t wrong: Shetland joins guide’s must-visit list” – The Times. “Three hours of sun a day, 40in of rain a year, and 14C is as hot as it gets – but it beats the Barrier Reef” – The Daily Telegraph. “‘Must see’ Shetland Islands on top of the world” – The Scotsman.
Today’s newspapers, at least those in Britain, provided free, if a trifle exaggerated, marketing publicity for tourism in Shetland of the kind that Promote Shetland and VisitScotland could only dream of, all courtesy of a publication by the BBC-owned Lonely Planet, Best in Travel 2011.
Ranking the isles as one of the top 10 regions to visit next year, it singled out Shetland as the “last untamed corner of the UK” and invited adventurous travellers to “step this way”.
The publication’s contributing editor Tom Hall said: “This year’s picks for Best in Travel 2011 reflect the passion for discovery that our readers have. It’s no surprise then that we’ve singled out a little-known but beautiful and rewarding corner of the UK as a must-see next year. The Shetland Islands have a huge amount to offer wildlife-watchers, outdoor enthusiasts and history and culture buffs.”
Email alerts from the various media outlets and follow-up sites were whanging around the internet today highlighting Shetland’s charms, but whether it leads to an increase in the number of visitors we will only know next year.
VisitScotland island manager Steve Mathieson said: “This is fantastic news for Shetland, and reflects our commitment to ensuring that Shetland remains a world class visitor destination with a range of qualities and attributes unlike anywhere else in the world.
“I am delighted that the travel experts recognised the strength of Shetland’s unrivalled tourism offering, from wildlife watching opportunities in untamed locations to breath-taking outdoor activities and cultural pursuits.
“Shetland is a great place for fascinating discoveries from the unique culture celebrating the islands’ intriguing history to the awe inspiring wildlife that inspired Simon King’s recent TV series. We hope that this right and proper recognition of a uniquely beautiful destination helps many visitors to enjoy the wonders of Shetland in 2011.”
Andy Steven, destination manager at Promote Shetland, who has long argued that it is important for Shetland not to underestimate itself in the global tourism market, said: “I am absolutely delighted Shetland has been included in this list of the top destinations in the world.
“I think it will raise a few eyebrows here to see that we are ranked alongside places like the Great Barrier Reef – but it will help Shetlanders see how others see their island community.”
MSP Tavish Scott said: “This news will not come as much of a surprise to the many people who have already discovered Shetland and who come back year after year. They already know about Shetland’s spectacular landscape, teaming wildlife, stunning archaeology, and world famous music; and they have experienced the Shetland welcome. They know that Shetland rewards those who make the effort to travel north. In summer they can enjoy the simmer dim, when it never gets dark. And in January, they come to have their cobwebs blown away by the bracing combination of a gentle Shetland ‘breeze’ and the world’s greatest fire festival, Lerwick’s Up-Helly-A’.”
Scottish tourism minister Jim Mather added: “This is [an] extremely welcome and well-deserved acclaim which confirms Shetland’s standing as a world-class destination and highlights the stunning land and seascapes, abundant wildlife and incredible welcome which bring visitors from far and wide to this part of Scotland.
“I am delighted to congratulate the communities and tourism businesses of Shetland on this remarkable achievement.”