Hospitality sector must do more for tourists

IN VIEW of your headline on the letters page (“High prices hold back tourism in Scotland”, 28 July) and Willie Macleod’s letter about visitor spending in Scotland, I felt obliged to write to say that some tourists’ experiences in Scotland leave something to be desired at several levels.

Our Italian friends, who have just left us to return to Palermo, spent a week in Orkney this year having visited Edinburgh, Inverness and Skye last year. They were amazed to find last year that most restaurants in Edinburgh and virtually all restaurants in Inverness refused them admittance because the family included a 13-year-old boy. In Inverness this included a hotel which has “Children welcome” etched on the windows, as we discovered on a later visit.

In Kirkwall this year it was almost impossible to find anywhere open for a meal after 8.30pm and which did admit children. In the one such restaurant they did find in Kirkwall, the son had to be out by 10pm; in another the staff switched most of the lights out while they were finishing dessert and the wife had to find her way to the WC in the dark.

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What sort of hospitality is this? Perhaps Mr Macleod could persuade the members of his association to consider a markedly different approach if visitors to Scotland are to have a pleasantly memorable experience and return. Fortunately, in the case of our friends, they found Scotland sufficiently wonderful to put the less agreeable aspects of their visits aside.

Could someone please explain why families appear to be so unwelcome and why every­thing closes quite so early. Perhaps a change in attitude is called for, given the undoubted attractions that Scotland offers visitors. If there is a tradition, as in Denmark, say, where the evening meal is eaten early, then the brochures produced by VisitScotland should state this clearly so that tourists 
are not misled and can make appropriate arrangements.

Gerald L Milch, London