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Authentic tourism is to be found just here...
Added On : 27 March 2009
  

Sun, sea, sandForget it. Authentic tourism is to be found just here...
Shan Ross
685 words
25 November 2008
3
(c) 2008

ASKED to name the most authentic places on Earth, most people would opt for Zanzibar with its wooden fishing dhows, the lush rainforests of Hinchinbrook Island off Australia's Queensland coast, or Imlil, a small Berber village in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco.

But in the search for "authenticity" - the latest travel buzzword - a small area of south-west Scotland best known for its small farms and annual book festival has made it on to a list of the Top 50 "Most Authentic Places on Earth".

Wigtownshire, along with far-flung destinations such as Battambang in Cambodia and Sossusvlei in Namibia, was chosen by a panel of travel experts and writers - including novelist Will Self, and Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler - because it had remained "true to itself".

The only Scottish destination on the list was glowingly described as being "on the way to nowhere".

The final 50 destinations are published in this month's up-market British Airways magazine High Life.

One of the judges, Professor Harold Goodwin, director of the international centre for responsible tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University, admitted one traveller's idea of "authentic" could be anathema to someone else. "Perhaps the best way of describing it would be to use words my father used. He always said that when travelling he wanted to get into the back streets 'to see what it's really like'.

"It also means that your destination is still part of a community with people going about their everyday business.

"Fewer and fewer British people are going on holiday just to lie in the sun. Travel is evolving, meaning that people want to have experiences and mix with local people. This might mean they are more inclined to book walking holidays or wildlife tours or visit small festivals."

Mark Jones, who compiled the list, said: "Authentic tourism is growing in popularity because it's more inclusive, more liberating and maybe because it's more open to personal interpretation.

An authentic tourist is one who is changed by a place and doesn't seek to change it."

The rules stated places would be disqualified if they faked their own history, had given up their own culture merely to make money or had over-packaged their natural attractions.

Ian Cochrane who has run The Old Bank Bookshop in Wigtown for five years, said: "I'm dumbstruck we're on the list because you do have to make a definite effort to get here - but then perhaps that's part of the attraction.

"This is a pretty town but the residents speak up and we've resisted things like yellow lines for a long time. We don't have a Starbucks and we put up a fight when the council wanted to put speed bumps all over the place."

Mark McLean, manager of The Bruce Hotel in Newton Stewart, said: "This is a laid-back place and a real living community. There is so much unspoiled natural landscape but there's always so much going on - our Seven Stanes mountain bike trail is second best in the world."

TOP 50

The top 50 'Most Authentic Places on Earth' - in alphabetical order:

Albania (all of it)

Battambang (Cambodia)

Berkeley (California)

Bisbee (Arizona)

Carlisle Bay (Antigua)

Causeway Coast (Northern Ireland)

Collioure (Languedoc-Rousillon, France)

Columbia River (Washington State, USA)

Damascus (Syria)

Deal (Kent)

Dingle Peninsula (Ireland)

Dungeness (Kent)

Esfahan (Iran)

French Island (Victoria, Australia)

Gjirokaster (Albania)

Greve (Italy)

Hanoi (Vietnam)

Hastings (East Sussex)

Hinchinbrook Island (Queensland)

Holderness Coast (Yorkshire)

Imlil (Morocco)

Koh Samui (Thailand)

Leblon (Rio de Janiero)

Leeds (Yorkshire)

Lewes (West Sussex)

Lord Howe Island (South Pacific)

Los Angeles (USA)

Ludlow (Shropshire)

Mornington Peninsula (Victoria, Australia)

Myella Farmstay (Queensland, Australia)

Pantanal (Brazil)

Paris (France)

Pench Wildlife Sanctuary (Madhya Pradesh, India)

Port Elizabeth (South Africa)

Portmeirion (Wales)

Ramsgate (Kent)

Salcombe (Devon)

Les Salines Royales (Arc-et-Senans, France)

Salta (Argentina)

Santiago (Cape Verde)

Sidi Ifni (Morocco)

Sils Maria (Switzerland)

Sossusvlei (Namibia)

Torremolinos (Spain)

Valldemossa (Mallorca)

Venice (Italy)

Vienna (Austria)

Warsaw (Poland)

Wigtownshire (Scotland)

Zanzibar (Tanzania)

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