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Ayr - A great day out (not)
Ayr in General
Member Name: spangle359
Ayr in General
Date: 02/06/01, updated on 02/06/01 (235 review reads)
Advantages: good shopping, efficient rail and coach links
Disadvantages: Don't eat too late, Don't shop after 5.30, Don't ask for a show
What a warm and welcoming bunch we Scots are, always ready to help the tourist, so kind and good-natured, full of fun and always obliging.........unless of course you want to enter a shop after 5.30 p.m., have a drink after 11p.m. or eat your evening meal after 9.p.m......No,No,No.....we don't do that. We have set our hours of opening to suit ourselves and if the tourists don't like it.......well, that's their problem...
When will we wake up and realise that one of the most under-utilised industries in this country is tourism. We have one of the most beautiful countries in the world, where the possibilities of increasing the number of visitors we receive each year are endless, and our idea of servicing the market is to provide some shortbread, whiskey, occassional piper and sprig of heather.....wrap it all up in a bit of tartan and sell it at grossly inflated prices.
It infuriates me when I visit some of the picturesque towns and villages throughout Scotland and find groups of tourists being herded onto coaches for the obligatory tours. Oh yes, it is a wonderful way to see the country, travelling along at 50-70 mph, and you get to meet the people, a grumpy coach driver and stressed out tour guide at 7a.m. are really indicative of the Scottish people. You get to taste the local produce, a pre-booked lunch in a hotel/restaurant catering for large coach parties and using frozen/microwave food really does enhance the eating experience. The choice of souvenirs is excellent, the aforementioned tartan gifts have hardly changed since they were first introduced, they have always been over-priced and of poor quality.
The lack of service to the tourist industry was brought home to me by a visit last summer to the seaside town of Ayr. This was my local childhood beach and I told my children of all the wonderful days I had spent on the beach, park and amusement centre. We set off to relive my past and give the children a day to
remember....or one to forget.
I could feel the excitement building as we reached the town and almost reaching creshendo level as the beach came into view. We parked on the promenade and made our way to the childrens' play area where we had, on a previous visit, played on the trampolines, go-carts, boating pond, bouncy castle and taken a ride on the miniature railway. It had gone.........replaced by a car park. In order to allay the disappointment, we decided upon the fairground, it had always been one of the biggest and best in Scotland. It had gone.....replaced by some appartments. Our next stop was the park, full of new and innovative play structures. It had gone.......replaced by some shops.
We decided to have lunch and looked around for a suitable restaurant. We needed an establishment which would allow us access with a baby buggy. There were none, not a single restaurant would allow us to enter with a sleeping child in a buggy, we got a take-away sandwich instead.
The beach in the town of Ayr has always been one of the cleanest in Scotland, but was now covered in litter and decaying seaweed. It really did smell bad and there were no deckchairs. The public toilets were filthy and indeed unuseable.
Our day of disappointment was made complete when we found that all the shops, even the souvenir shops closed at 5.30p.m. We couldn't even buy a stick of rock.
This was in the middle of July, the town of Ayr, in common with many Scottish towns, was filled with tourists. Everyone was wandering around trying to find something to do. There were no shows, films or shops. A quick meal and a visit to the pub seemed the only option available to holiday-makers. An evening stroll seemed out of the question as the town quickly filled with teenagers and hundreds of motor-bikes.
We were all greatly disappointed.
The really sad part in all of this is that the local people really do have a great pr
ide in their town. Houses and gardens are beautifully kept but they appear to have little or no control over the planning of the town as it now appears to be money rather than facility led, by a very greedy and unhelpful local council. It is such a pity that a previously bustling, favourite holiday town is reduced to a mere shadow of its former self. The history of the town and its many old buildings are being lost under the concrete structures of new development. This town does play a great part in Scottish literary history, having been the stomping ground of our national poet, Rabbie Burns, who hailed from nearby Alloway.
On the positive side, I will say that shopping facilities are very good and there are many fine restaurants, the people are genuinely friendly and very helpful, but even the locals whom we spoke to were depressed about the state of the town.
I know that the availability of cheap foreign travel has meant that many of our traditional holiday towns have fallen by the wayside as many of us jet off into the sun, but, we should perhaps try to remember that we have a large incoming trade who need to be entertained and amused after 5.30 p.m.
I did contact the local council and put some of these points to them, I was told that Ayr is no longer considered merely a holiday town but is more of a commuter town for Glasgow. Oh well, I guess that explains why they don't need facilities after 5.30....well according to the council...."people are just too tired to go out in the evening after they have been working all day and travelled home to Ayr". I would have asked about weekends, but quite frankly, I was no longer interested......it will be a long time before we return and that only makes me sad.
I have worked in Scottish Tourism and I am well aware of the need for change within an industry, while steeped in tradition, is very slow to realise that we in Scotland are now much more accessible to Europe a
nd the rest of the world. Perhaps we should just try to give our visitors the sort of service that we expect when travelling in other countries. :-)
The town of Ayr is situated approximately 30 miles west of Glasgow and is accessible by car, coach and rail. Coach and Rail services are very efficient.