BELL'S CHIMES: CORNWALL AS A TOURIST DESTINATION
PUBLISHED: 13:23 27 May 2014 | UPDATED: 13:20 30 August 2017
Cornwall Life columnist Malcolm Bell, Head of Visit Cornwall, on why Cornwall is a top holiday destination
Our columnist Malcolm Bell, Head of Visit Cornwall, gives his take on matters of tourism and beyond
Having been on this planet for over five decades, from my first screams in the maternity ward of Redruth Hospital, to today and my grumblings about almost any topic under the sun, I have turned increasingly from the optimism and enthusiasm of my youth to that self-same enthusiasm mixed with a good dollop of grumpiness in middle age. However, no matter how easy it is to moan about what needs to be improved and ask why isn't somebody doing something about it, I can - on a bad day - excel at the notion that nostalgia isn't what it used to be!
We must all from time to time stand back and reflect on the changes that have happened, to balance the old scorecard with the positives. The old glass half full view is a good way to restore faith in the future and give you the energy and drive to have another go at solving those persistent niggles and execute the changes we all want to see happen.
Having spent time reflecting on the profile of my beloved Cornwall, one massive change in my lifetime is the profile of the county. When I went to college in Manchester as a long-haired, Afghan coat-wearing student, Cornwall was known by some, but certainly not all.
If it had a profile it was that funny bit of the county sticking out into the Atlantic and where some came on holiday or remembered family holidays before they could afford a proper holiday aboard. Little else was known about here except the Poldark programme and pasties which, to my disgust in Manchester, were full of a grey sludge of mincemeat, peas, carrots!
All too often it was called Devon and Cornwall, as they were one and the same thing really! As for being proud of being Cornish, well that was seen as some odd affliction, a joke and the biggest laugh of all, was to talk of its own language, let alone mention the Celtic culture. I was therefore adopted like the ceremonial goat in a regiment; after all, Cornwalls glories were all in the past. The Welsh, Scots and even Yorkshire could be proud but should Cornwall pretend to be in the same league?
Well, what a remarkable change in the profile of Cornwall. Not only is it far better known as somewhere special, different and on the move with its high end, exciting and innovative tourism offer, great food and restaurants, no TV series would be complete without creating some link or story to here. It might be Caroline Quentins Cornwall, Coast, Countryfile, the Great British Bake-Off, to mainstream dramas and a growing profile in films not only here, but internationally.
But the shift in our image is certainly not only about tourism it is our profile in education, research and renewable energy, let alone the international profile of companies such as Pendennis Superyachts that have shifted perceptions.
When I am out of Cornwall, be that in the UK or Europe, everyone wants to talk about the county. They want to know whats new; many deeply envy me and wish they could work here. So, in my lifetime, Cornwall has moved from quaint and funny, to a place on the move and where things are really happening.
Just because there have been glories in the past, it does not mean there is not a greater future ahead.
Finally, another well-kept secret of mine is that I am a Manchester City supporter! Not because I went to college, there but because of 1970s player Colin Bell, as when in my youth you were asked which team you supported, that seemed as good a reason as any to follow them as any.
Cornwall, like Man City, seemed for large parts of my life to underperform, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, blame others and to dwell too much on past glories and achievements. But like Man City, Cornwall is now a premier league player with some recent success but a hunger for more trophies and victories. Long may that last.