Creating the right impression for our visitors

Last week my focus was on concerns for our badly abused environment, and in particular how we could best prepare the area for an influx of visitors, assuming we would eradicate the eyesores to present an acceptable image of our beautiful countryside.

For the sake of argument, let us take the clean-up exercise as a given, and that we have rallied round to put on our best face in the interests of visitors keen to see what we have to offer.

It’s my considered opinion that in fact we have much to show off, right from the mountains to the sea, and all things of beauty in between, all looking near perfect in the warm, early summer sun. A real treat, not just for our visitors, but also those who live here over the rest of the year.

On that count I have no fears, as I contemplate the rich culture of the area, it’s fascinating history, and generally friendly natives who are trusted with looking after our new found friends.

Now at this juncture I have to say some doubts creep in, as I am not entirely convinced of the ability of our various service outlets to meet the demands of in particular our overseas visitors.

Granted there has been a dramatic improvements in service in a range of local industries, thanks to better in-service training for staff, led in the main by some of the bigger companies.

Progress has been made, not least in dealing with customers who are after all king, or should be.

So in part I have convinced myself we are getting there, even if I have major problems with the attitude of the general public who are after all in the front line, meeting and hopefully helping our visitors make the best of their stay.

On this count I have no good news, for despite all the good indicators in for example the hotel and catering sector, the same public have a leading role to play in presenting the best possible image of the North-east.

But alas, we are now talking about the same people who were the object of my derision last week who litter the area, and are very unlikely to change habits of a lifetime just to accommodate a few tourists.

The issue in fact goes much deeper, as in my opinion it is not just about throwing down litter, but of adopting generally slovenly attitudes, letting ourselves down at every turn.

For example I am heart sick of being in our many well presented coffee bars in the area, and despairing of fellow customers who on leaving cups or plates, make no attempt to return them for the hard-pressed staff. The same applies in pubs where it is arguably worse.

As for the use of social media, we really are quite unbelievably ignorant and inconsiderate in public places, and yes more so than our average European counterparts.

All of this of course is noted by our visitors, giving them a dreadful impression of us.

But don’t get me wrong we have many fine ambassadors in our midst who will go out of their way to balance the books on behalf of the rest of us, but I fear the good they do is far outweighed by those who insist, albeit probably unconsciously, of letting down the side.