In 2019 the theme for World Tourism Day 2020 was set.
With much of the world experiencing some level of travel restriction due to Covid-19, celebrating World Tourism Day in 2020 appears perverse. But the theme that was set, “Tourism and Rural Development”, now seems far-sighted with its remit of celebrating the ways tourism outside the big cities and urban centres can afford opportunities for developing rural environments while preserving both natural and cultural heritage.
I am fortunate to live in an area of North Wales that is steeped in the legacy of industry that carved its seams through Snowdonia’s mountainous landscape yet left its natural grandeur and rugged beauty. Slate and iron quarries were worked not too far away from my home; transport needs led to the development of railways and tramways. Around 20 years ago restoration work began on the Welsh Highland Railway; it is our ‘local’ line, albeit a tourist attraction, and we’ve travelled on it every year since moving here. Much of the work is done by volunteers, and my husband has been a member of the Ffestiniog Society for decades.
Last Saturday the WHR introduced a new “First Class Luxury Pullman Day Out”; we decided this was too good to miss and today had the most memorable day travelling from Caernarfon to Beddgelert in their newest observation carriage. The station staff provided an excellent lunch hamper and for the return journey a selection of ‘sweet treats’, freshly baked cakes, scones, and Welsh traditional fayre, were in our compartment when we got back from our stroll around the village. Wonderful!
For the end of September the weather was glorious. The railway management have got their adherence to the social distancing rules, while maintaining the fun and excitement of steam train travel, just right. Each group was separated by perspex screens, and rules for social distancing and the wearing of face masks were stressed. Even so the staff kept the atmosphere light, and did their utmost to maintain a sense of adventure and ‘holiday spirit’.
Are you able to support your rural areas at this time? Or perhaps you are not able to get out of your town or city. Please share your experiences, or how you are coping these days with coronavirus just seeming to be always there.
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