As readers may be aware, I have an unnatural interest in paranormal tourism. I’m not opposed to marketing a place for its legends and mystique but frequently the claims bleed over into reality, cheapening the experience with hoaxes, mock-ups and crappy merchandising. This distorts the reality and is, essentially, lying to visitors.
I found this interesting blog post with some details on how “known hoaxer George Edwards” (see this story here), is sparring with those who prefer truth to phony gimmicks.
On May 30th of this year, Mr. Edwards had the temerity to file a letter of complaint with the Drumnadrochit Chamber of Commerce, particularly attacking the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre, Adrian Shine, and “his cronies”, the latter of which appears to be in reference to Tony Harmsworth, but by inference includes all objective researchers such as Feltham and Raynor. Edwards gets personal in a rather unsavory way. But besides all that, the premise of his complaint is that science has damaged the Loch Ness tourist industry. Perhaps he wants the Chamber to put a stop to research? Accept hoaxes as good for the tourist industry? Give them what they “want” and send them away happy? Oh my.
Here is part of the letter:
Mr Shine and his cronies have been making a nice living out of Loch Ness for the past 20 odd years and if they cannot see the logic in promoting Nessie then maybe it’s time they moved on, as they seem intent on destroying our industry.
I am sure the members would see the financial rewards if we were to buy them one way tickets back to where they came from and let Nessie breathe easy again! Unfortunately, it would appear that to be an expert on Loch Ness you have to come from at least 300 mile away.
Author and Loch Ness resident and businessperson Tony Harmsworth (read his book Loch Ness Nessie and Me, I have) rebutted the Edwards letter in the Chamber newsletter for which he is the editor. But the Chamber asked that the letter be taken down from publication and sided with Edwards. Harmsworth resigned.
Here is part of Harmsworth’s reply:
While I have no doubt that you entertain your passengers well and in comfort, the information with which they leave the area includes such nonsense as your invented deep trench called the Edward’s Deep which has been comprehensively dismissed at the recent Edinburgh Symposium. You also show Nessie pictures which you faked-up from a documentary’s prop and pretend are real. Your latest fake picture was exposed by Nessie hunter, Steve Feltham, as a deliberate hoax and was raised by several speakers at the Edinburgh symposium as an example of fakery.
This does not bring any credit whatsoever to Drumnadrochit and Loch Ness and if I thought it sufficiently important I would propose a motion of censure to have you expelled from the Chamber of Commerce for bringing the business community and the whole area into disrepute by your faking and hoaxing.
Your antics, Mr Edwards, reinforce the view by the majority of people in the world, that Nessie is an invented marketing tool used to hoodwink gullible tourists.
INDEED! Bravo, Mr. Harmsworth. I applaud your integrity.
As the blogger (Steve Plambeck) notes:
Shame on George Edwards for his hoaxes, but even more shame on the Drumnadrochit Chamber of Commerce for virtually endorsing them!
By the way, The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition had its most successful season ever last year, says Harmsworth. So, shall we expect more hoaxes to liven up the tourism industry there? I’d suggest bypassing the Edwards’ Nessie Hunter tour boat. He has no respect for tourists.
UPDATE (14-June-2013): The Telegraph picks up the story today.