Opinion: Tourists welcome, but please respect this area
Washed Up column, by Sarah Juggins, Tuesday, July 7, 2020
The Prime Minister boomed: “Have a staycation in Hunstanton,” in answer to North West Norfolk’s MP James Wild.
And for their part, Boris Johnson urged coastal communities to welcome tourists with open arms.
Which is fine. Of course, for the sake of all our businesses, not to mention the economy as a whole, we want to see people taking advantage of re-opened pubs and restaurants, booking holiday cottages and hotel rooms and spending money in our local shops.
After months of lock-down, often in small, cramped inner-city homes, it is totally understandable that people would want to flock to beautiful Norfolk. And we are proud of that.
Writing this just a few days before liberation day on 4 July, and social media is awash with local pubs, deli’s, restaurants and holiday accommodation owners encouraging people to come and dine and stay.
But during lockdown, one of the recurring themes was how much of a blight on the landscape human beings could be.
There was a lot of talk about things being different when we emerged blinking into the light.
Nature, for one, has been showing itself in all its glory. Flowers, hedgerows and meadows teemed with life. The skies were clear of pollution, there were few airplane vapour trails.
Tellingly, the narrow roads of Norfolk were not splattered with roadkill every 10 metres.
Around my own corner of West Norfolk the hare population has increased exponentially, the variety of birdlife has risen, and the verges are scattered with wildflowers, not McDonald's containers and discarded Costa cups.
So how about we all reach an amicable agreement. Please come and visit Norfolk. Please come and enjoy the countryside and coastline.
But please: drive with care around the roads, dispose of litter (and dog poo bags) responsibly, shut gates when you go through them and keep your dogs from harrying wildlife and farm animals.
I read a very simple motto once: “leave nothing but footprints”.