Nessie’s Real. At least as a Moneyspinner

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Everyone’s heard of the Loch Ness Monster. Photographs tv programmes and films have been shot. Novels, factual books and countless articles have all been written about her or him. Millions of fluffy toys, fridge magnets, mugs and other souvenirs have been manufactured over the years. Does it really matter whether Nessie exists or not?

Not really.

As a device to draw tourists, it does need the odd “sighting” now and then to keep the interest going. And the interest must be lucrative since there are two exhibition centres on the edges of the loch. One was called the original one and the other the official one. But not any more.  The two different organisations have changed their names so that one will be the known as Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition and the other as Nessieland Castle Monster Centre.

Behind this name change lies a story that goes back 23 years. Since then the owners of each have been, metaphorically, at daggers drawn as dirty tricks like sticking up signs and covering over signs have been common. One centre claimed that the other was responsible for lost profits amounting to £1.3 million. Even allowing for exaggeration, what it shows is that the Nessie myth (or reality) is so strong that enough of us have visited the area for that amount of lost profit to have been considered.  About 300,000 people a year are drawn to the loch by the charms of Nessie. That’s more people than go the Royal Armouries in Leeds, the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea or even Urquhart Castle which is on the banks of the loch and from where many of the “sightings” have been made. But at each of these there is something tangible to see. Something about our heritage. At the original or at the official there is what? Exhibits and stories about what might have been seen. Or not. And souvenirs. Lots of souvenirs. No wonder the dispute between the two got so heated. It even wound up in court in Inverness where after two days, the parties came to an agreement on the name changes.

If you think of the legal costs that must have been involved, it gives an idea of how valuable to the two parties, the Nessie saga must be. And how gullible, visitors must be to go and see an exhibition about what may be nothing.

So has no-one thought of other tourist attractions? One in Bodmin about the Bodmin Moor panther could concentrate on big cat sightings. One in the Harz Mountains in Germany could be about unicorn sightings and I’ll open an exhibition centre in Llantisilly in Merioneth because that’s where there have been sightings of a red, Welsh dragon called Idris.  It must be true. Ivor the Engine and Oliver Postgate told me so!

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