Our sod­den sum­mer is heaven for leaf-peep­ers

Tourists flock to see Scots au­tumn

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - EXCLUSIVE - By con­nor Boyd mail@sun­day­post.com

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.

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