Our sodden summer is heaven for leaf-peepers
Tourists flock to see Scots autumn
At last some good news after Scotland’s long, wet, dismal summer.
We’ve been soaked by months of relentless rain but, according to tourism chiefs, the dreich summer will fuel an autumn boom as visitors flock to see our stunning trees.
The dismal weather has helped create a spectacular woodland colour show as leaves turn stunning shades of brown, yellow and gold.
The “autumn tourists” – known as “leaf- peepers” in the United States – come from all over the world. They are expected to come here to witness scenery after a 37% increase in rainfall during June, July and August. The torrential summer was the fifth wettest since modern records began in 1910 but the weather created prime conditions for autumn golden foliage.
Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust manager Morag Watson said: “With such a wet summer we’ll get a golden autumn.
“The foliage has blossomed earlier so the beautiful colours of the countryside will be on show sooner and for longer.
“Last year, we had a fantastic autumn but because it was quite a sunny summer it came later. This year could be even better.”
Autumn is the most popular time for tourists to visit areas like Perthshire. Morag pointed out that so called “leafpeeping” had become popular during this time.
“Leafpeeping is a tradition that originated in America – it means to take in the beautiful colours and scenery of different trees, plants and wildlife.”
The heavy rainfall combined with the odd warm day throughout the summer has meant trees have been able to build up plenty of sugar in their leaves.
These sugars produce the rich autumnal colours when they are absorbed back into the tree to help them survive winter.
Experts say there is a common misconception that there is a correlation between sunshine and tourism in Scotland.
Daniel MacIntyre, who specialises in marketing Scottish tourism, said: “In Scotland, it’s not like that. Recent research suggests people don’t care about the weather when choosing Scotland.
“Scenery, history and culture are the drivers of tourism here.
“Autumnal colours in Scotland’s natural environment are second to none.
“The wet weather will only have added to that.
“Scotland will be on the bucket list for a lot of leaf-peepers.”
Professor John Lennon agreed a lack of sun is irrelevant for Scottish tourism.
Professor Lennon is the director of the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development – the UK’s largest university- based tourism consultancy and research centre.
He said: “In Scotland we’re so obsessed with the weather and our climate that we often forget about the beauty we have.
“Tourists don’t come here for the weather – in the tourism industry we no longer sell Scotland as a blue- skied holiday destination.
“German and Dutch research found that rain played a part in people wanting to come to Scotland.
“We’ve seen a spike in tourists coming from Asia and the Middle East as they want to experience the authentic Scottish climate.”
■ The beautiful golden colours of a Scottish autumn – especially in Perthshire – have tourists from all over the world booking up to see our scenery.