The Loch Ness monster has sparked a fight among Scottish tourism officials about whether the legendary paleolithic monster is real or just a legend.
The business community in Highlands is reportedly split over how to market the monster to tourists. It has become so divided that George Edwards, the owner of Loch Ness Cruises, sent a letter to the 70-plus members of the Drumnadrochit Chamber of Commerce, ripping them for referring to Nessie as a myth.
Edwards said staff at the Loch Ness Centre in the nearby village is overly negative about the monster, turning off tourists with an approach that is too scientific and not mysterious enough.
There is a lot at stake. Tourism in Scotland is on the decline, and those around Loch Ness depend on attracting curious tourists who want to catch a glimpse of the legendary creature.
Edwards said he wants officials in the town to stop being such buzzkills and let the tourists have a little fun.
“Just about every time that [veteran researcher Adrian Shine] appears in the media he talks about big fish and big waves,” Edwards said. “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?”
Shine said Edwards had more personal intentions, and that even he admits the Loch Ness Monster isn’t real.
“He clearly doesn’t think that many other people believe in it either,” Shine said. “The irony is that the serious investigations and presentations such as that at The Loch Ness Centre, afford a great deal more respect to over a thousand honest and sober eyewitnesses by explaining what they have truthfully reported in terms of some rather special features of Loch Ness.”
The former chairman of the chamber of commerce, who resigned at the committee’s request after writing a letter criticizing Edwards, said tourists today don’t care if the Loch Ness Monster is real or not. They just want to understand the culture and learn about the legend of Nessie.
At least some of the businesses in the area are playing along with the Loch Ness monster myth. Jacobite Cruises, a tour company that ferries over 100,000 sightseers across the lake each year, recently purchased $1.5 million worth of monster collision insurance.
But it seems Jacobite’s tactic was as much marketing as anything. The ferry company signed the deal with the Iverness insurance company on the 80th anniversary of the first Loch Ness monster sighting.