England has just been voted the second-best country in the world in which to travel (announced by Lonely Planet). Second??? Disappointing… really disappointing. One, why did it take so long to realise it? Two, why are we not first?
At number one is the country of Bhutan. OK, it’s in the Himalayas. Pretty impressive. It has history, culture, scenery, fresh air and admirable sustainability policies.
But where’s the nearest beach? Where can you get a decent cream tea for your mountain-weary legs? Where be pasties?
In third is North Macedonia – formerly known as just Macedonia. Sure it’s a nice looking place with plenty of beaches, but when one of it’s most popular attractions is called Ohrid (we’re hearing “orrid”), it does make you wonder what else you’re going to find.
(And yes, before you say it, we know we have places in this country that sound just as unappealing – we’re looking right at you Shitterton in Dorset.)
Anyway, with tongue firmly in cheek, perhaps we should make our case a little stronger with some actual facts.
Let’s try this.
- In 1927, archaeologists in the UK unearthed part of what turned out to be an anatomically modern human jawbone.
- Subsequent carbon dating initially placed it between 34,000 – 37,000 years old.
- Recently, however, further investigations have actually placed it between 41,500 – 44,200 years old.
“What’s so special about that?“, we hear you cry.
Well, this makes it the… earliest known fossil of a MODERN HUMAN in the whole of northwestern Europe.
And, if that wasn’t significant enough, further examinations of the same site found that two other species of ancient human also lived there.
- Homo neanderthalensis – Neanderthal axes were found dating to approx 90,000 years ago.
- Homo heidelbergensis – stone tools were found dating to an unbelievable 500,000 years ago.
Interesting, eh? Except it gets better.Did you know that of the 4 species of human that have ever been found in the British Isles, 3 LIVED AT THIS SITE ALONE? Well, you do now. And the site in question?
Kent’s Cavern in Torquay, Torbay, The English Riviera, England. Just up the road, in fact, from our own little cave.
So, what does this actually tell us?
Well, it tells us that some of the earliest known modern humans lived right here in Torbay.
Chances are, initially at least, they were wanderers, hairy-backed back-packers, probably tourists. No doubt they made their way slowly up through Europe checking places out for the food, the nightlife, the accommodation, the climate.
Then, one summer’s day, that hair on the back of the hairy neck moment…
Sunset over the bay. Home.
In reality, like many modern humans since, they probably found the place so captivating they just had to stay. Same with the other two species.
Word of mouth spreads. Neolithic news soon gets around. Maybe Torbay was like “Club Med” for cavemen. Except literally with clubs.
We can almost hear them now…
“There’s this awesome place. Nice weather, great seafood, comfortable caves…it’s lovely. You should go.”
It truly was a lonely planet back then. The entire population of Europe was probably less than that of one of our current major cities.
And yet, the oldest known “modern tourist” in Western Europe chose to come to the English Riviera on holiday, and then kept coming back as they evolved.
Millennia ago we were right up there helping England compete for the No.1 travel destination and, today, we still are.
Fascinating, isn’t it?
Fascinating, but not that difficult to understand.
There’s absolutely no doubt in our minds that the South West of England is a truly wonderful place to live and work. And the jam atop that vast dollop of cream is Torbay, or The English Riviera as it’s also known.
This beautiful area, of which Kent’s Cavern is a small part, still retains the warm heart of a traditional seaside holiday resort, but it too is modernising, albeit slowly.
Like most places, it requires town-centre regeneration, but the whole of the bay is now a Unesco Global Geopark. It has international geological significance. The towns of Brixham, Paignton, Torquay and the marine environment too, are all passionately protected.
Conservation inevitably involves some form of reining in.
Some form of braking. It has to. And, as much as it would be great to have diverse, vibrant shopping centres, it’s not always instantly compatible with sustainable conservation policies.
no green screen required.
Still, once you visit this area of the planet, it doesn’t take long to realise that what the rest of the world has to offer in parts, we have in abundance…
- A temperate climate.
- Thousands of miles of wild, rugged coastline.
- Beautiful beaches, marshland, estuaries, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, forests, lowlands, highlands, moorland. We could go on.
- We have lush, rolling, fertile countryside parcelled up by hedges that alone are over 500 years old.
- We have modern, bustling, vibrant cities.
- We have sustainable, artisanal, forward-thinking village and town communities.
- We have more history than you will ever want to know about – just ask any school child.
- We have cultural traditions so old nobody can remember what the hell they’re about anymore.
- And we have ideas that are so new nobody understands them yet or, perhaps, ever will.
And we have all this in a place where should anything go wrong, the safety blanket of modern civilisation is close by.
Let’s face it, Bhutan would play hell with our bunyons. And make-up in North Macedonia? Ain’t happening.
truly timeless tourism.
Mother Nature does our marketing in Torquay and the South West. Put simply, in a marketing context, the South West of England has superb content, guaranteed engagement and unbeatable value.
For filming, for photography, for business, for leisure, for life in general, it has it all covered. So, number 2? Really?
Pah! Bring it on Bhutan. Not a chance North Macedonia. In the long run folks, you just can’t win. Give in now. We have human history on our side. Take a long look in the mirror Homo Sapiens. You’ve been holidaying here for over 45,000 years.
You know it…you can feel it deep down in your fossils.
It’s modern tourism for modern humans. Always has been. Always will.
Famous Rebel: Marketing for Modern Humans