The Royal Society of Edinburgh recently released a report damning VisitScotland and calling for it to be
scrapped. Or so the Scotsman tells me. Actually, the RSE's press release says nothing of the kind: it barely mentions VisitScotland at all, and merely recommends that they (for a suitably nebulous
radically reform the support structures for tourism. I haven't read the report: perhaps the report has stronger language. Perhaps the Scotsman is just being sensationalist again.
It's true that VisitScotland are, often, a bunch of incompetent morons who seem to have difficulty in the important business field of arse/elbow distinction. I'm wildly in favour of sweeping reforms, or, on bad days, the tactical nuking of Livingston; nonetheless I think
scrapped is a bit strong. First of all they need to decide whether or not they're working with, or against, the accommodation providers, and then I think we can work upwards from there.
However, the knives are out now. Apparently (so the Scotsman tells me) VisitScotland had to change their information on rail travel, because FirstScotrail complained that they were being OMGMEEEAN to them. This is ironic, because the bandwagon that FirstScotrail are jumping on is just about the only movement-related thing that's happening to wagons of any kind at the moment.
Laying aside for a moment the astounding fact that VisitScotland actually got something right for once—namely, that the state of the railways is woeful and unless you're travelling between Edinburgh and Glasgow you'd better get a car, and if you are travelling between Edinburgh and Glasgow it would be faster to walk—this presents me with a moral dilemma. I loathe both organizations, and now they're fighting, so which do I root for?
I have to come down on the side of VisitScotland, because, while it is bungling, inept, and sometimes belligerent, there have been occasions when they've sent us a guest and nothing has gone catastrophically wrong. With FirstScotrail, on the other hand, I've learned to take a massive dose of opiate-based painkillers before even setting foot in the station. There has been one single occasion that I can recall in the last eight years when I've got on a train and not wanted to kill everyone before it starts to move. (Notable example here, and there are many others that languish unblogged because they are too painful to recall.)
Besides, in this case VisitScotland were being entirely accurate and honest, and they were reporting unbiased facts that tourists should know. This is their job, and I wish they'd do it more often. They didn't describe the rail network as
skeletal, they said that it was
at its most skeletal in the Highlands [emphasis mine, exactitude-fans]—that's a comparative, and to my knowledge it's not libellous or legally actionable in any way. They also apparently had a picture of a sign that said
Beware of the trains. This is good advice. Even if the rail network was marvellous, if you get hit by a train it's really going to put a crimp in your day. This is the sort of thing that, in my experience, a lot of tourists need to be told.
I see what's going on here. Not only is it open season on VisitScotland, but one of the most notable complaints in the RSE report (so the Scotsman tells me) is that VisitScotland focuses too much on the central areas, as opposed to the outlying ones that
need support. The tourism industry in those areas is struggling for a number of reasons, but key to them is not that VisitScotland has abandoned them, it's that tourists can't bloody get to them in the first place. This is, of course, the fault of FirstScotrail, not VisitScotland, and as a result FirstScotrail has noted that the best defence is a good offence, and that, conveniently, that VisitScotland is now fair game.
Actually, no, there's no moral dilemma here for me at all. I am still on the side of Right as always. Both of you are cretins and should learn to do your jobs. You, provide public transport to places that people want to go; and you, provide information for tourists. It shouldn't be that hard. It's what you're paid to do.
If that's too difficult for you, could you try not to be complete bastards while you're at it? That would be nice, thanks.
Holy damn, there were a lot of StudlyCaps in this post. Do businesses think that extra capital letters give them an extra competitive edge?
It doesn't. Even if
Scotland's rail network is a bit dodgy is a controversial statement, this isn't: BiCapitalization makes you look like a wanker. This is Truth.
 Actually, it's the fault of Doctor Beeching, but who's counting?