Loch Ness area chamber disrespects tourists by throwing researchers under the bus

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.

The Loch Ness Giant Salamander: Stop the Science! It’s Bad for Business!.

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.

Photo credit: George Edwards/CASCADE NEWS

Edwards’ hoaxed hump in Loch Ness

  4 comments for “Loch Ness area chamber disrespects tourists by throwing researchers under the bus

  1. June 14, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    For the record, this is the editorial content which was removed:
    “George Edwards tells us, ‘After 28 years of promoting Loch Ness tourism, being a founder member of the Chamber of Commerce, serving as Treasurer, Vice- Chairman and Director and having served on the Inverness, Loch Ness and Nairn Area Tourist Board, in various positions, Lenora and I were thrilled to hear that Trip Advisor have awarded us a Certificate of Excellence 2013 Winner, for our Loch Ness Cruises business, for consistently being in the top 10% of world wide businesses receiving 5 star ratings from our customers.’

    You can see the Trip Advisor Reports here.

    Mr Edwards has a controversial approach to tourism and advocates that any negative news about Nessie should be prevented. True – see his letter. He takes issue with the views of Adrian Shine (40 years work on the subject), the editor (37 years presenting the subject), Dick Raynor (47 years researching the subject) and others who believe the loch should be properly researched and evidence presented scientifically, whatever the findings.

    Background: This TV item from last year branded Mr Edwards as a faker and hoaxer and this website might be of interest to those who would like to know more about his Nessie views.

    Mr Edwards deserves congratulations for his Trip Advisor reviews. I admit that sentence was said through gritted teeth as part of my editorial duty. He says he provides what the tourist wants, fun Nessie stories.

    Does it matter if Nessie pictures are faked and tourists go away happy, but with a distorted view of the area?

    Are Nessie sceptics damaging tourism? The sceptical Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition has just had its most successful season ever which doesn’t seem to fit in with that view.

    Ed. “

    I actually thought it was even-handed given the nastiness of his original letter. As the above is no longer in the public domain it is being misquoted occasionally as if my original long response to Edwards was the actual editorial. Hope that is helpful to anyone who is trying to keep track of events.

  2. June 14, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    The words “True – see his letter” in para 3 and “I admit that sentence was said through gritted teeth as part of my editorial duty” in para 5 were comments I made about my editorial to a journalist and are not part of the original. Apologies.


  3. June 14, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Thanks for adding to this, Tony. I really appreciate it. And it gives me the opportunity to say I have and liked your book.

  4. spookyparadigm
    June 15, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    A core aspect of the Loch Ness Monster is the idea that scientists try to find it. Sonar returns and mini-subs are just as important imagery as blurry photos when it comes to Nessie. Attempting to remove science from the legend of Loch Ness, and make it just another folk tale, would likely spell the end of interest in the legend, with obvious effects on tourism. Scientific interest, or even the appearance of it, legitmated Nessie over all sorts of other legends.

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