Loch Ness monster is good for tourism, but many people believe Scotland should admit that the serpent is nothing more than a myth.
It’s big business in the Scottish Highlands. And nothing draws folks to Scotland’s second-longest lake like a good Loch Ness monster sighting.
However, two local businessmen have set off a tempest in a serpent’s teapot over how honest to be with tourists about whether there is — or isn’t — a sea monster in Loch Ness.
George Edwards, who runs Loch Ness Cruises, complained that some of the other members of the Drumnadrochit, Scotland, Chamber of Commerce are leaving tourists – especially those visiting the Loch Ness Centre – with the impression that the Loch Ness monster is just a “myth.”
That, in his opinion, is bad for business.
“Just about every time that [Centre researcher Adrian] Shine appears in the media he talks about big fish and big waves,” Mr Edwards said in a letter to the chamber of commerce. “I believe they are doing more harm than good in promoting Loch Ness tourism with their negative theories… How many people come here to see the Loch Ness Big Fish or the Loch Ness Big Wave?”
The Loch Ness Centre seems to be trying to walk the line between the sea monster “sightings” and sharing information on the scientific research that has been done at the Loch.
“On one hand, the loch’s famous ‘Jurassic Park’ reputation, 1000 reliable eye-witnesses and some classic photography. On the other hand, hoaxes and illusions, Scotland’s journey and the legacy of the ice, life in the abyss and a possible underlying truth,” says the Centre’s website.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Tony Harmsworth, the former boss of the Loch Ness Centre, responded to Mr. Edward’s accusations with a letter of his own posted on the chamber of commerce website (since removed), and he accused Edward’s of “palming his customers off with fake photographs.”
The Scotsman reports that “The row has led to resignations from the Chamber of Commerce, including Debbie MacGregor of the Loch Ness Centre, and Tony Harmsworth, its former chairman, who has quit as editor of the chamber’s website.”
But this is not the first time locals – or others – have haggled over how to promote Loch Ness. A BBC article recently posed this question: “Is Nessie just a tourist conspiracy?”
The article is based on the work of Dr. Charles Paxton, a research fellow and statistical ecologist at St Andrew’s University, who has so far sifted through 800 of the 1,000 recorded sightings. Paxton observes: a sizeable number of ‘Nessie’ sightings came from cafe and hotel proprietors.
The truth is out there, even if tourists are willing to pay for it.