Change is on the cards - post haste

JUST like someone who made a trip to the seaside in the forlorn hope that he could change that which it was impossible to change, Cumbria Tourism embarked this week on a campaign doomed to failure. It was almost 1,000 years ago when Canute, the first Viki

JUST like someone who made a trip to the seaside in the forlorn hope that he could change that which it was impossible to change, Cumbria Tourism embarked this week on a campaign doomed to failure.

It was almost 1,000 years ago when Canute, the first Viking king of all England, was carried to the seashore on his throne and commanded the tide to stop in its tracks.

The defiant water continued to lap higher and higher around his ankles and he was forced to beat a hasty retreat.

I think the tourism board covering that beautiful part of the country including the Lake District will be no more successful in its latest bright idea.


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It decided to campaign to bring back the "much loved" (but not so much these days) tradition of sending postcards after it was noticed that increasing numbers of holidaymakers from the south of England are instead texting or tweeting while they are away.

New research shows that more people these days prefer to send their holiday news home via their mobiles or social networking sites.

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This hardly surprising revelation has prompted the good folk on the Cumbria Tourism board to launch a Wish You Were Here campaign encouraging its 15 million annual visitors to rediscover the art of sending the Great British postcard.

They are concerned that only 27 per cent of people in the UK have sent a postcard in the last 12 months. Worse still, almost a third of southerners questioned admitted they had not sent a postcard for more than five years. And 14 per cent of people asked by researchers said that they had not sent one in over a decade.

If this trend continues, the board fears, postcards could eventually die out as younger generations use social networking sites as part of everyday life.

Its chief executive argues that the Lake District landscape is inspirational and he wants visitors to take the time to stop and think about their surroundings instead of abbreviating their experiences into 140 characters or less. It strikes me that people with largish writing would not be able to get that many characters on the back of a postcard anyway, but that is just a passing thought.

He adds: "Postcards are much more personal to the recipient and can often become a cherished keepsake so let us embrace this institution and make 2010 the year of the Great British Postcard."

There is little hope of that, I suspect. Can you imagine people, especially the younger ones, putting aside their mobile phones and laptops to traipse around the souvenir shops to buy postcards, searching for stamps and writing out "weather is lovely/awful" messages before sending them off to arrive at their destinations after the holidaymakers return home?

Times and methods of communication move on, the Cumbrian people should remember. It's known as progress. They also might want to keep in mind that if Canute had stopped to send postcards, they would have ended up soaking wet.

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