This is a topic I’ve had in my mind since I started my blog over 3 years ago.
It comes to the forefront of my mind every single summer, when tourists flock to Cornwall to see our beautiful landscape and gets busier and busier. But this year I thought I’d finally write down my thoughts as this matter is now even being mentioned in mainstream news too!
What my blog is all about
I started The Cornish Life in 2015 as a hobby and an ode to Cornwall; a place I enjoy living and am truly passionate about. Over the last few years my blog has grown and now acts as a resource for many people visiting the county, with advice on where to stay, what to eat, places to go and things to do etc. My audience are mostly made up of Londoners & city dwellers who love escaping to Cornwall for their holidays.
I love exploring my home and sharing my adventures and tips with people, and it’s amazing when I get messages and emails saying how my blog has helped them book their holiday, or given them ideas for an upcoming trip, or even been a factor in encouraging them to move to Cornwall for good! I also get these messages from locals too, which feels so great when I’m helping people find new places in their own back garden…
The Problem with Promoting The Hotspots in Cornwall
However, come July and August, Cornwall is bursting at the seams with tourists; for many popular seaside towns and communities, overcrowding creates massive problems with traffic (locals struggling to get to and from work), parking, and also with littering and conservation too. As locals, we joke that you basically have to stay indoors and not go anywhere during these months, but it is a genuine issue.
I’m not saying we don’t want or need tourism – the Cornish economy thrives off it! The problem is the distribution of tourists; throughout the county itself, and throughout the year. There are certain towns and beaches that are ‘hotspots’ (eg. Newquay, St. Ives, Kynance Cove, Porthcurno etc.), which receive obscene amounts of visitors every summer and it is these places that are really suffering. Meanwhile there are lesser known communities that could benefit from more tourists. And of course if more people chose to visit in Winter and the shoulder months that would help too!
Many of these hotspot areas are places I love and want to visit myself, as a local. Naturally, I want to share and talk about the places I enjoy visiting, but I understand that I may be contributing to the overcrowding that is already out of hand.
The Problem with Promoting Lesser Known Areas and Quieter Spots
So what about dispersing the masses around other lesser known places in Cornwall instead? This itself comes with its own controversy.
One of the things that sparked me writing this post is some conversations I’ve had about Pedn Vounder beach (a ‘hidden’ cove next to Porthcurno). A few years ago it was relatively unheard of, but over the past couple of years (and this year in particular thanks to viral Facebook videos and lots of media attention!) it is now incredibly busy and has fast become one of the aforementioned ‘hotspots’.
Many locals who have been visiting Pedn Vounder for years before its popularity are openly upset at the damage tourism and increased numbers of visitors has had on the beach. Namely, people leaving litter behind and not cleaning up after themselves, which is awful, and it stops us from wanting to publicise these stunning places.
I had a chat with Hayley from Stoves in Coves, who regularly visits her favourite secret coves and hidden away spots, who is having this same dilemma. We want to share and talk about these beautiful places, but we are scared that in doing so, we could accidentally create the next ‘hotspot’, and our favourite quiet places will be quiet no more.
Do I have a responsibility?
At the end of the day, I am not paid by a Tourism Board and my site is purely a personal blog about Cornwall (along with many other topics that are personal to me). I write about the places I love, and I don’t have any obligation to write about places that don’t interest me personally.
I also don’t know the ins and outs of the tourism issues or economy details we have here, BUT my platform has grown and become a resource for people now, so I do have to ask myself if I have a responsibility to be careful about what I promote or protect.
In the grand scheme of things, The Cornish Life is relatively small and probably isn’t a major contributing factor, but I’m not the only one with a platform and some influence. There are other bloggers and there are many, many Instagrammers who post about places in Cornwall, and collectively I think we have a fair bit of power nowadays!
I know that this must be a commonly debated topic for travel bloggers and journalists in general. We all want to share the amazing parts of our explorations, but there comes a point where you wonder if some things should be considered ‘sacred’.
I think those of us with influence (no matter how small) should be more careful with the places we are promoting, or at least be aware of how what we share contributes to the environment and communities. When we promote places we should put emphasis on how to visit a place as sustainably and respectfully as possible, and definitely try to be an advocate for visiting out of peak seasons!
I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on this topic in the comments :)
(Photos taken on Portreath cliffs)