Remote parts of Scotland are to start marketing themselves as “digital detox” destinations in an effort to attract stressed-out tourists tired of being always switched on to the virtual world.
A quarter of Scotland is without mobile phone reception and vast areas, particularly in the north-west, offer no opportunity to access the internet or check emails.
This lack of connectivity is the chief complaint among visitors – surpassing even the weather and the dreaded midges – but tourism chiefs are urging hoteliers and resort owners to make the failing a virtue and promote the timeless landscape as an antidote to the constant pressures of social media.
The “joy of missing out” or the “novelty of Luddism” could be a powerful marketing tool for off-grid locations, according to Visit Scotland.
“Although technology is and will be a driving force for many years to come with tourism, some providers have identified a niche market for those who want to escape digital life (albeit temporarily),” it said.
A survey concluded that 45 per cent of tourists were dissatisfied with poor Wi-Fi while a third moaned that they could not use their mobile phones while visiting. More than half said they used social media while on holiday in Scotland.
“Although the majority of consumers would not see this as a positive aspect, many would identify Scotland as a destination to escape and ‘detach’ from the digital world,” the report added.
The growth of “wellness” holidays which also feature a digital detox extends beyond Scotland. The trend was identified in 2012 by the travel writer Pico Iyer in a New York Times article entitled “The Joy of Quiet”, which identified a growing backlash against the information age.
But not everyone is happy at the prospect of promoting Scotland as a land of the digital Luddites. Marc Crothall, head of Scottish Tourism, said: “For 25 per cent of the country not to have proper mobile phone access is just not good enough for the modern day.
“We need to have full coverage across the whole country as soon as possible.”