Earlier in the week we reported the tourism ward forum in the Courthouse and on the ill-defined ending to the event. Now that time permits we'd like to bring you a bit more from the event. The Westies's*, Brian Stewart spoke, he wished to try to identify ways forward:
He said: “It seems to me that this discussion, particularly the latter part of it has either confused or overlapped to different things. The two strands that we have talked about at this meeting are: 1, the product and 2 the presentation and it is important to be clear that there is a distinction [...] we’ve got a good product because it is kind of there naturally but there is a real task to be done in improving it. That itself is a big ask They may be little things but the amount of agonising and anguish over cleaning up seagull poo, you wouldn’t believe. So, even though we talk about what is little they do seem to present obstacles. That’s area of action number 1, is our product good and how can we make it better?
The second chapter heading is presentation, how do we publicise, how do we present, how do we inform about...the problem is you can’t do one without the other, it is no good having a brilliant product if nobody knows it’s there. But equally there is no point in spending huge sums on websites and marketing and brochures and video ads and whatever if your product is crap. In terms of a way forward on this, I think we ought not get too hung up on whether we need a 100 quid or 200 quid to tart up a website or even anguish too much about a BID. I think I agree with people who say that is a step too far at this point. But I think in deciding what we do and how we organise ourselves to do it we have to be very clear that there are two major tasks to be done: there’s a lot of work to be done on both but they both have to be done side by side – without a good product you can’t do anything and without the presentation you aren’t going to have a product.”
Liz* then said: “I think there are lots of things you said there Brian will pull into the charrette that is coming up at the end of the month...”
Brian was quick to intervene: “The charrette is a different matter, the charrette is about planning and regeneration of the physical fabric of the town. It’s not going to be the panacea, the cure-all and solution to Nairn’s problems. The Charrette is a part of it because the charette, hopefully, will come up with sensible, feasible, affordable ideas for improving our product, for responding to some of the comments and slides that Rosemary put up, like the state of the church or the derelict...the physical appearance of the town. Planning is crucial for this and one of my hobby horses is, that up till now, there has been no vision for the town. It has been piecemeal, ad hoc, knocking down and building up and hopefully what the charrette will do is take a look at the whole town from the harbour to the station and actually figure out what needs to be done to make the place look and feel better. But that is not tourism information that is planning and organisation.
*Note for any new readers – The Westies are the West Community Council and Liz is Liz MacDonald the Area Political Leader.
I believe that Nairn desperately needs asome indoor facilities. I don’t know what that necessarily would be but a decent leisure pool and indoor kids play area would seem obvious. The cold hard fact is there is nothing for tourists here other than the stunning beach - and most tourists drive right through without even realising that is there. The town is barren, bleak and unattractive from the A96. If you do venture to the beach you can’t help but be impressed, but soon realise there is a clear lack of modern facilities. The playpark is mediocre and poorly maintained. The cafes and restaurants are few and far between and the toilet facilities are inadequate and appalling. The swimming pool (if you can ever find it open) is utilitarian and boring. Then we venture on to the High Street where the stores that are open often appear neglected, the whole town echoes of a place where the community has lost pride and interest, but the scary thing is if you question many a local and they actually take pride in it - as it is, and oppose change, development and enterprise fiercely. I struggle to see a way forward and believe Nairn will forever be viewed as a crap town with the best beach in Scotland - if you can be bothered to find it. I realise this post will anger some, but it needs saying as I travel throughout Scotland for work and meet many folk who have visited Nairn recently, and this is a frequently encountered view.
Nairn has the most fantastic beaches and surrounding countryside and that is exactly what attracts so many tourists to come here. But some locals seem puzzled by this and demand that we get everything from donkey rides to model ride on trains. I suspect that it is these locals who want such attractions, not the tourists.
Any average seaside resort can build their version of Blackpool, but what is impossible to create is the natural beauty of nature that we have here in Nairn. Learn to enjoy rather than moan about it
Got to say I agree with moan ranger I speak to many tourists in the area and get similar feedback, one couple said its a shame we cant move forres town to nairn beach!
Forres High Street on our beach lol
Tripadvisor says it all, I like this quote - "The beach is clean peaceful and a haven for young families. It is quite the opposite of Blackpool etc. If you want to be entertained don't go . Relaxing is the word I would use".
Anonymous Nairnite in reply to the Moan Ranger. Nairn Leisure and Swimming Pool is open from 8am to 9pm. We also have Nairn Sports Club. Take a walk to the playparks at Links/ Putting Green and the playparks are well used by children having fun and enjoying themselves. I do not think this is a crap town. It is a lovely safe town in which to bring up our children
I too travel the length and breadth of Scotland for my work and have encountered very few people who've actually visited Nairn, the exception being Glasgow.
Of the few Nairn visitors I've met not one has expressed any negative view about our town, I must be meeting the wrong kind of visitors or perhaps they're just being polite
I do however agree with the moan ranger on one point, in common with the great majority of towns in the UK we've lost interest in shopping on our High St and that's why shops are closing. It's a familiar sight and I'm sure many visitors will have encountered a similar scenario in their home towns
Relaxing maybe on a good day, what about when the weather is not quite so fair..... Boring is the word I would use.....
This observer feels that Nairn is Disnelyland compared to the lifestyle in some towns and cities in the United Kingdom. Maybe folk like it here because they can take their kids for a walk in a relaxing environment where they don't have to remain at constant 100% streetwise mode?
@anonymous nairnite. The pool may be open but trying to find a session you can use with families is difficult when you factor in all the clubs and special interest sessions. The park is ok but hardly outstanding when compared to other local towns. I agree with much of what Moan Ranger says particularly Nairnites championing of mediocrity. The town is dying on its @rse and being in a pretty setting will not stop that. Face facts Nairn and get out and support local business. And @Graisg walking the bairns does not make the town money and increase its vibrancy and sustainability. We need to appeal to all markets, tourism has to be the catalyst for development improvement and improvement. It is a prevailing attitude in Nairn that we are entitled to peoples businesses and cash and dont need to work for it. No one is saying lets build Blackpool but lets at least properly service the market we have
@local trader - perhaps I should have said visitors walking bairns, maybe that is not clear in my comment. Many thousands of people bring their kids to Nairn every year and have a great time.
So the suggestion is that when we walk our bairns we pay some sort of High St tax to make the shops sustainable?
I think the suggestion is that we need a decent high street offering to encourage the families that have come to utilise the undoubtedly fantastic and popular beach to spend a few quid there, whether it be a cup of tea, local crafts, nairnshire produce or a new pair of socks. Face facts Nairn many tourists to the Highlands stay in Inverness, this is where they spend their hard earned holiday pennies, nairn is a cheap day out to the beach as long as the weather permits, if its pouring down we simply get overlooked. Heres an idea Nairn...what about charging to park at the links, Harbour and Maggot during peak season but offer free parking in the town? The revenue generated could then be used to invest in local facilities. Visitors would then be herded more towards the high street. Im not saying it us viable - I dont know but we need some "out of the box" thinking.
So Moan Ranger you're proposing a tax on the current 'free' offerings that Scotland has to offer, namely charging people to look at our countryside. Maybe we should set-up toll booths at the edge of town and levy a charge for each vehicle that dares to enter Nairn?
It may have escaped your notice but the vast majority of folk who park at the Links, harbour or the Maggot are local,and probably a large proportion of those are dog walkers
IF we had a High St full of unique bespoke shops then folk would already be shopping flocking to it and we wouldn't be having this conversation. But we don't, I can't think of one shop in Nairn that has folk driving for miles to shop in it discounting Sainsbury's of course
The model shop was arguably a shop that should have attracted tourists and visitors from outwith Nairn but it too failed. I cannot think of another shop like this on the High St in terms of it's appeal, can anyone else?
Nairn High St is never going to be an Eastgate and that is the sort shopping experience that patently people want.
The very nature of shopping has changed across Scotland with internet purchases becoming more popular each year
The out of the box thinking that we need is what to do with all the empty shops on the High St. We may get some pop up type shops but these are not going to be sustainable long term
We will see more shops put up the closed sign for the last time, but trying to tax people so they park on or just off the High St is not going to stop that trend
I dont see the problem with charging for links parking, it might stop folk abandoning vehicles all over the grass on busy days. you could easily set up nairn resident passes. The beach doesnt clean itsself, the bins dont empty themselves, our council tax pays for life guards. People in this town just put obstacles in the way of everything, thats why firms dont invest here. I wouldnt charge at harbour just enforce a maximum stay of maybe an hour.
Well I see a problem with charging for parking on the Links as I'm sure many others will, namely you're going to then encourage visitors to park in the likes of the Fishertown which already has issues with a shortage of parking spaces in many streets. Resident passes wouldn't apply to personal visitors to my house (I stay in the Fishertown) so where would they park, and how much would it cost
What about folk who have boats at the harbour and maybe leave their cars there whilst they sail away for the night, or even for just longer than an hour?
I don't understand what you mean by people in Nairn putting obstacles in the way of everything. Surely charging for parking would be an 'obstacle'. Maybe you could explain to us what you mean and list the firms that have been put off by these mysterious obstacles, or is this just made up?
It's easy to spout off but you need to think of the consequences of what you're saying
I tend to agree with the obstacle argument as so eloquently demonstrated by the above comments.
obstacle 1 fishertown parking. Solution residential parking scheme with guest passes as implemented all over the country, this may actually ease the current problem's in the fishertown
obstacle 2 the harbour users. Solution dedicated bays, that can be used when displaying a valid pass issued with your harbour dues.
See its simple. Answers can always be found, im not actually pro charges but dispair at the negative and selfish attitudes in this town
No, it's not simple. We would have to employ traffic wardens to police all the new areas where parking charges are in place. This would be a cost.
Charging for parking is going to deter a certain amount of visitors from coming to Nairn and they might well head elsewhere meaning we gain no monies from them. Witness how parking charges for the High St and adjacent car parks have always been avoided for this very reason
The Links and harbour areas are often overflowed with cars during the summer, so you would either have to pay for more parking to be created (which means more tarmac on green areas) or we accept that we have a parking shortage which will again lead to visitors going elsewhere.
You would need a huge number of bays at the harbour to match the number of boats if each harbour user were to be given a space
Do we really want the Links and the Harbour to be one big permanent car park? No
Let's be different and continue not to charge for parking. Ever been on holiday and been sickened by having to pay £1,£2,£3 or even more every time you visit a town or village?
So, the parking charge is not well supported, I didnt expect it to be- Im not sure I even think its a good idea but by mooting it and seeing the responses it proves that people in Nairn do care about local issues and are able to put a reasoned argument either side. We need to go over these ideas and look at positive and negative impacts.
@ Moan Ranger (the)
Edited out your final sentence, might be a bit much for one or two citizens.
@local trader - your choice to have a business in the High Street. The rest of us our choice where to spend our money. Not sure if I liked the tone or being told to help you earn a living. As a local I will spend my hard earned cash where I want!!
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