by Colin Campbell
LAST summer Inverness was overwhelmed by foreign visitors. Now it’s a pleasure, and almost a surprise, to meet any.
I got chatting the other night to a young German couple, from Bavaria, who were enjoying a balmy riverside evening in Ness Walk. They had been on a 10-day trip around the Highlands, and it was their last night here before heading home.
Any problems, any difficulties, any impediments thrown in their way by this damn virus, I asked.
None that they could think of. The airports had been fine, the flights had been routine, our public transport system had been easily manageable and taken them where they wanted to go.
Their assessment of their Highland holiday was the same as might be expected in any other year. Very pleasant, beautiful scenery, but a bit too much rain.
Germany has made a better shape than most countries of controlling the spread of the virus – better than Boris Johnson or Nicola Sturgeon and most other countries in Europe. The fear factor is not so prevalent over there. At a most crucial time, they’ve utilised famed German efficiency at its best.
In this country it seems very different. Planes are still taking off but I know no one of any age who is even contemplating a foreign holiday this year. With ever-changing rules and restrictions and quarantine requirements you’d need to be pilot or a travel agent to keep abreast of it all, and some of them are probably struggling to get the most up to date information.
I do know however that relatives of mine who booked flights to Portugal months ago have decided to drop their travel plans for September and forfeit around £400. Their perception – too much hassle, too much uncertainty, too much risk.
I have an emailed voucher in recompense for a long haul flight cancelled in June. So remote does the prospect of foreign travel seem right now that I haven’t even got round to checking the details.
The urge to go abroad will no doubt return among most people sometime in the future but who knows when. The German couple I chatted to will be back home now and glad they had their pleasant Highland holiday.
In this country people in a city just 100 miles away are not allowed to travel more than five miles and many among the rest of us are just praying to God that we’re not placed in a similar predicament by being hit by a second wave.