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Friday, 9 April, 1999, 07:30 GMT 08:30 UK
SNP hits back at guidebook
Highland scenery
The SNP said Scotland has "tremendous scenery"
The Scottish National Party has attacked a travel guidebook that branded many of Scotland's top attractions "depressing", "kitsch" and "crawling with tourists".

According to the new Lonely Planet Guide to Scotland, Edinburgh has a "thriving drug scene and a depressing Aids problem".

Edinburgh Castle is so "crawling with tourists" that it might be "more impressive from the outside looking in".

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle: "Crawling with tourists"
John O'Groats is "a ramshackle tourist trap", while "appalling kitsch reigns through the summer" at Aviemore in the Cairngorms.

The guide also sees "little reason" to visit the elopers' town of Gretna Green, while Dundee, although friendly, has "ugly flats and unsightly concrete walkways".

Glasgow's standard of living "remains low for the UK and life is tough for those affected by the relatively high unemployment, inadequate housing and generally poor diet".

HIV problem 'in the past'

An SNP spokesman hit back, saying: "You want a travel guide to reflect a country as it is.

Glasgow Georges Square
Glasgow: "Life is tough"
"You do expect honesty and balance but this particular guide seems to be a bit over-critical.

"Scotland is a beautiful country with some tremendous scenery, culture and people."

A spokesman for Edinburgh City Council said problems with heroin and HIV-Aids were mostly in the past. "Regrettably it is inaccurate and out of date," he said.

Caingorms: Appalling kitsch?
"We are very glad that so many tourists come to Edinburgh. It's a sign of the health of our tourist industry."

60s planning

Dundee's Lord Provost, Mervyn Rolfe, said he was delighted the guide had reflected the city's friendly nature but criticised its description.

"The mistakes of 60s town planning are being put right. Dundee has seen a massive transformation over the last few years."

However, the guide was not wholly critical. It also described Edinburgh as "one of the world's great cities with ... extraordinary architectural heritage".

Positive notes

Glasgow was seen as "large, lively and interesting" and Dundee had some of the "friendliest, most welcoming and most entertaining people you'll meet anywhere in the country".

Lord Gordon of Strathblane, chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board, said the criticism was balanced.

Dundee: Planning problems "sorted"
"Some of the criticism is fully justified. We are tearing down Aviemore and rebuilding it while Dundee has suffered from some of the poor planning introduced in the 1960s," he said.

Douglas Ritchie, director of marketing at Edinburgh and Lothians' Tourist Board, said: "I think Lonely Planet are well established, they give honest views and we have no worries about honesty."

Tourism is Scotland's biggest employer and provides more jobs than the oil, gas and whisky industries put together. It contributes more than 2.5bn to Scottish coffers.

And its rigorous self-defence is not surprising. After all, Lonely Planet's Website describes the Scots as "feisty, opinionated and fiercely loyal".

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02 Jan 99 | UK Politics
Scots call for tourism funding
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