Coronavirus – Where Are We Now?

Our first thoughts are, of course, with anyone who has lost family, friends, colleagues, or any other personal connections, from the disease.  They are also with others who are currently fighting off the infection or struggling in the lockdown.  Our heart-felt best wishes to them all over the next difficult few weeks and months!

      But Is There An End In Sight?

Everybody has taken a financial “hit” one way or another, albeit some very much more than others.  The tourism sector has been particularly badly affected, and Boat of Garten businesses will be no exception.  So, our best wishes also go out to everyone in the local area who make Strathspey the amazing place it is.  Our hope is that everyone will successfully make it through to the day when we can all look forward to starting to put Covid-19 behind us, and the local community is happy to have visitors moving freely through the villages again.

But, when might that be?  Malcolm Roughead, the Chief Executive of Visit Scotland recently provided some insight into this when he said:

It’s hard to put timescales on any of it – but we hope to have a domestic market remerging in the autumn if we follow the patterns of other countries, which are further ahead in the crisis than us. Strategies, however, will need to be adaptable and in these times, we should expect the unexpected. People will want to have a holiday – but we must ensure that everyone feels welcomed and that communities feel ready to welcome those visitors back.

 The view of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is tourism may have been brought to a near-standstill by COVID-19, but the industry – which accounts for 10% of global GDP – finds itself in a unique position to help put the global economy back on its feet, once the pandemic has passed.  Given how crucial tourism is to Scotland’s economy I can see it leading economic, social and health benefits we will all be needing after this lockdown.

So, all is still very uncertain, although it does indicate that anyone thinking they could still be able to visit the Highlands in July or August might have to rethink their plans.

Community Action, Despite the Difficulties

On a more positive note, the amazing community energy of the Boat of Garten people has been evident as always, with progress being made in a number of initiatives before and despite the lockdown.

For the Wildlife Group, events at Milton Loch woodland have had to be put on hold.  However, a group of volunteers did manage to clear the area around the dam and on the island, partly in preparation for the osprey nest for the Osprey Village we mentioned in the previous BloG.  The badger hide has also been brought out of its usual winter hibernation to be ready to reopen as soon as restrictions allow.  Nature and wildlife aren’t in lockdown, and I’m sure it’s a comfort to many to see everything bursting into life, as it does with inspiring urgency in the Highlands!

Before lockdown, Woodland Wheels, an exciting community company project with the aim of developing Strathspey’s first “pump track” (a cycle circuit with banked turns and other exciting features to negotiate – had to look that up!?) successfully raised enough for the first phases of the project through crowd funding.  Not just an amazing effort to raise the funds, but how did they get the legendary Danny MacAskill up to the old curling rinks to star in the wee promotional video!?!  Wishing that all success in gaining further support, planning permission, etc.

One success already delivered for the village in 2020 has been the completion of an all-abilities path, the Capercaillie Trail, which allows access for wheelchairs, babies in buggies and toddlers on bikes+trikes, through the thriving local woods, which were previously inaccessible.  This is already being enjoyed by many, and, once people are free to move again, will also be a great contribution to accessible tourism opportunities in the Strathspey area – accessible and inclusive tourism is currently receiving a lot of deserved focus, being promoted at every level, global to national.   So, what a great project for the village to have taken on.

As a final grounding thought, also perhaps being enjoyed at the moment by some is the total peace in Glencoldon Cottage’s wild garden due to the absence of guests over the past few weeks…… thoughts go back to last spring when the baby Roe Deer stayed in the garden for several weeks, seemingly visited by its mother every night, mostly unperturbed by visitors, gorging itself on the abundant new buds and growth in the garden!  If it’s even the slightest of silver linings, some may be enjoying the peace of the lockdown!  The wild garden, not just a peaceful sanctuary for we humans!

Until next time, when we will surely be closer to being able to do many things we used to take for granted, good health to all and all the best!

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