Tour Brochures

Monday, June 14, 2004


Tourism is one of Britain’s major growth industries. As such the quality of tourist information must be of the highest quality. The Victorians were noted for their ‘romantic’ play on words when describing a subject. Today this is likely to lose more visitors than gain. As a former member of various tourist management committees, I am more than aware of what can and sometimes does happen, when tourist brochures are badly written or researched.

How often have you received a tourist brochure, only to find on visiting the area, the compilers have been economical with the truth. This does nothing for the destination nor the tourist who may wish they had never visited. I remember meeting four Americans taking two months to visit Roman forts and villas around Britain. While in Carlisle they were encouraged to visit Olicana the Roman fort at Ilkley.

In various tourist leaflets from the town the Roman fort is clearly marked. Imagine their dismay and disgust when, on reaching Ilkley, all they found was a very short section of Roman wall and three information boards. With around a dozen remains of the period in a nearby Manor House museum. Sticking a tourist leaflet under my nose one gentleman remarked, “Roman Fort, you’ve got to be joking.” I only wished it was!

Let us take this leaflet as an example of what not to write.


Situated in the scenic Wharfe valley, the spa town of Ilkley is surrounded by glorious countryside. The southern slopes of the valley form Ilkley Moor, immortalised in Yorkshire’s anthem “On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at.” Prehistoric man lived on the moors and left behind stone circles and hundreds of rock carvings, including the famous Swastika Stone.

Nowadays walkers and nature lovers have unlimited access to the moors for walking, orienteering or rock climbing on the Cow and Calf Rocks. Ilkley grew on the site of the Roman fort of Olicana near the River Wharfe, and during the 19th century Ilkley became established as a Spa town. Today you can still visit the cold water spring at the cottage known as White Wells, on the moors.

On the northern slopes of the valley lie Middleton Woods, famous for its spring Bluebells, and nearby there is one of the few surviving Lidos in the north of the country. Ilkley town centre is highly regarded for its stylish architecture and colourful flower beds. The tree lined shopping streets offer a wide range of quality shops, award-winning tea-rooms and restaurants.

To the reverse of the leaflet.

The scenic Pack Horse Bridge. Ilkley’s Lido - great for outdoor swimming. Manor House Art Gallery and Museum. White Wells. Darwin Gardens Millennium Green, a ‘New landscaped recreation and picnic area commemorating Charles Darwin’s stay in the town while he was writing ‘Origin of the Species.’ Visit the maze, mosaics and wildlife gardens. Open all year. Cow and Calf Rocks, gritstone rocks and panoramic view point. Riverside Gardens, spacious green gardens on banks of River Wharfe with children’s playground and refreshment facilities. Swastika Stone, near Hebers Ghyll. Thought to be Yorkshire’s oldest rock carving is a boulder on the edge of the moors bearing a swastika symbol. Cup and Ring marked rocks, prehistoric ringed hollows marked in rocks on the moors associated with Bronze age burials. See the ‘Panorama Stones’ in the Public gardens opposite Saint Margarets Church.

To be continued…………