The Lowest of the Low?

In case this blog hasn’t done much to turn your attention to the intriguing attraction of the Falkland Islands, the New York Times listed the Falklands on their 52 Places to Go in 2019 list. Yet again, the New York Times is way behind me on current trends (see also: fashion – I think).

Things like this give me (and many people) quite mixed feelings: on the one hand, it’s nice for the local tourist operators to get promotion and for there to be more awareness about the Falklands. After all, the ongoing dispute with Argentina is unlikely to get solved by World powers if 99% of the World population has never heard of the Falkland Islands. But it’s the same old story with tourism, isn’t it? It has the potential to make vast sums of money for (usually a select few in) the community but it can also truly ruin the feel of a place (see also: pretty much every major tourist destination in existence and most of the minor ones, too). The impact of this is often more noticeable in the numerous small communities across the globe who have seen vast shifts in their way of life (and environment) occurring as our increasingly globalised society seeks new and unusual travel destinations. The very attraction of the Falklands is in its remoteness and it will be hard for this community to keep its bearings or regain that once, like so many other destinations, the allure of the dollar has taken hold. This potential hazard won’t be helped by the incoming second flight (to Sao Paulo once a week, with a controversial stopover in Argentina once a month; possibly the only example of a country dictating a scheduled stopover for an international flight in exchange for passing through its airspace).

That being said, the Falklands are nowhere near as desperate for the tourist dollar as many other unusual destinations (they maintain 2.5 years’ worth of their entire national budget in the bank, have no national debt, no unemployment and no homelessness). There’s also definitely a less immediate danger of that happening while the restrictions (both financial and logistical) on the flights are in place. There is, too, very much a high and a low season here as the wildlife and weather dictate the attraction of the islands. We’ve had some recent short-term arrivals on the islands and have often expressed pity for them arriving at such a time, only getting to experience this place in the depths of Winter. As much as we can handle the season and there are things to see and do, it’s definitely not the Falklands at its best! It was with a little surprise, then, that the NY Times decided to follow up on their listing of the Falklands by sending their correspondent to visit at the Winter solstice. I’ve often shared the works of others here to communicate a sense of the place from other perspectives and it’s nice to be able to offer an honest perspective from the NY Times in this instance, with some pretty pictures to boot:

I will add, with a little bias, that he never visited the excellent Historic Dockyard Museum (ranked in Trip Advisor’s top 25 Museums in South America, don’tyouknow), so his one week trip clearly wasn’t enough. Still, you get the idea.

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