Despite winning a place in Lonely Planet’s list of the world’s top 10 travel destinations for 2011, Shetland has failed to impress the author of another tourist information book who claims a visit is “not worth the trouble”.
In the latest edition of Scotland for Dummies, author Barry Shelby gives the reader “the flavor of Scotland so enchantingly you can almost hear the bagpipes”.
Shetland and Orkney obviously left a bad taste, however, as the California native writes: “The far northern island chains are remote and rural. Unless you specifically have the time and inclination, they may not be worth the trouble to visit.”
Of the island groups, and Aberdeenshire and Moray, he helpfully points out: “I intend no offence but generally feel that these are destinations for long-term visitors – or for travellers with specific interests. If you want to visit an uninhabited island … please visit a tourist information centre.”
And in a sentence sure to aggravate locals for two reasons, he claims that Orkney “has more going for it than the Shetlands”.
It’s not just Shetland that comes off less than favourably, however.
Glasgow also fares quite badly, with visitors warned they can expect “street battles” on Old Firm match days. Aberdeen and Inverness are “lacking in attractions” and Loch Ness is described as “a tourist trap, so see it if you must” and “somewhat overrated”.
It’s not all bad though. Included in his “Cool things to see and do” in Shetland are Clickimin and Mousa brochs.
Mr Shelby, who has lived in Scotland for 14 years and is now a crofter in Lewis, said in an interview: “I’m a naturalised Brit and an adopted Scot, so it was certainly not my intention to offend anyone.
“I hope I haven’t played up the issue of fried food too much, as there are a lot of great things in the Scottish diet. I do think it is fair to say Scots in some areas don’t understand Scots in other parts of the country.”
Steve Mathieson, island manager for VisitScotland, said: “Many travel guides such as this attempt to generate publicity by highlighting negative aspects of a country, but we all know that Scotland and Shetland in particular is a fantastic place to visit and to live.
“While we obviously agree with the author that Scotland has something for everyone, a number of his other comments should be taken with a large pinch of salt.”