Aberdeen-really the most dismal city of Scotland?
A few months back I took the leap to move from buzzing Edinburgh to Aberdeen, which is mostly known to be grey due to the high number of granite buildings. My friends thought this to be a rather strange move and asked me “Why are you moving to Aberdeen, you are not even working with gas or oil?” One was even making a Harry Potter reference, texting me “How is…..? Oh I don’t even dare to pronounce the name.”
Last Tuesday, the 3rd of February 2015, Urban Realm (http://www.urbanrealm.com/carbuncles) awarded Aberdeen with the title of the most dismal town in Scotland. Two of the reasons were the dismissal of the Union Terrace Gardens project in 2012 and missing out on being shortlisted as City of Culture 2017.
In my opinion Aberdeen is not a city that opens itself up that easily. In the time before Christmas I really missed a Christmas market. Maybe it was made of granite and perfectly camouflaged. Edinburgh, by comparison, presents itself on a silver plate and you are being spoon fed the whole time you are there. However, after living in Aberdeen for a while I am starting to realize that they don’t compare. Aberdeen is a hard nut to crack, but once its open it has a soft core. When I heard about the award I was wondering whether it is responsible to award a title like that? Can it be an opportunity or will it just enforce the negative image?
It does draws attention, yet, it also raises questions and debate, which is the main aim of the award. Steve Harris, chief executive of VisitAberdeen, said: “I am pleased that we have been given this award as anything that draws attention to Aberdeen can only help people realise how preposterous and ignorant its award is.” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-31095837) But is it?
Having heavily relied on oil and gas for the last decades, other areas are undervalued (underdeveloped). We are living in a time when it becomes continuously more apparent that those resources are running out. Altough BP doesn’t give any detailed numbers on how many oil fields in the North Sea are in the red, we know that fossile fuels are not endless. This could be a wake up call for the city council to shift its’ focus and move step by step towards other areas, such as tourism.
When I visited old Aberdeen just a few days ago I started to realize what wonderful facets the city has. Old Aberdeen is gorgeously cute and the architecture on Union Street is diverse and beautiful. But tourists often don’t have time to scratch off the grey. They need to be taken by the hand and that’s what needs work. Aberdeen has potential, but as a visitor and as a tourism professional I have to say, it has a long way to go. And that doesn’t include building another shopping center.
What are your opinions on the Plook on the Plinth Carbuncle Award and on Aberdeen as a tourism destination? Please comment below, I am very curious.