The summer holidays are just around the corner, and the Island's tourist attractions are girding their loins for yet another bumper season, writes Tourism, Philately, Lacrosse, Bingo, Psychiatry, Indo-Chinese Drama and Phrenology correspondent, Herbert Ffountaine.
I spoke to Eric Ladle, General Manager of the Island's Tourist Information Centres, yesterday. We had a jolly interesting conversation about Mongolian Throat-Singing, but eventually I managed to get Mr Ladle to talk about the prospects for Island Tourism this summer.
Mr Ladle explained that they are generally optimistic about the coming season, despite the presence of one or two slight concerns.
"We are generally optimistic about the coming season, though we do have one or two slight concerns", he explained, yesterday.
"I think I can say that, in spite of the existence of one or two slight concerns, we are generally optimistic about the coming season", he went on to say.
And he concluded that "the presence of one or two slight concerns notwithstanding, we are nevertheless - in general - optimistic about the coming summer season."
He went on to clarify that "I can safely say that we have a good deal of optimism about the summer, though there are one or two slight concerns", and was in the process of adding that "one or two slight concerns there might be, but we are still optimistic...", when I interrupted him.
I asked Eric Ladle what were the slight concerns that were not sufficient to dampen the ardour of their optimism.
"Well", he elucidated. "Our optimism is, on the whole, undimmed, but we do have one particular concern. This is an issue concerning what we term 'visitor patterns'. Our figures show that there is a trend in terms of the 'demographical scatter' of Island visitors which gives us slight cause for concern.
"In brief, we are slightly concerned about the fact that visitors have tended, in the last few years, to congregate in particular areas.
"The concern is that these areas are mostly, if not completely, what we term 'external to the Isle of Wight.' People are going to places like Cornwall, Scotland, the Lake District, or abroad. They are avoiding the Isle of Wight in their thousands.
"If we could transfer the big red column on the 'avoiding the Isle of Wight' graph onto the 'Isle of Wight visitor' graph and colour it in blue, then we could publish this graph in all the newspapers and we could claim that Island Tourism was enjoying a veritable renaissance.
"But we would only be deluding ourselves."
I asked Eric Ladle if he was sure that they could still be optimistic about the summer, given this slight concern. He explained that there were grounds for optimism in view of the action plan drawn up by the specially-formed Island Tourist Information Centre Task Force.
"Yes", he explained. "there are grounds for optimism, in view of the action plan drawn up by our specially-formed Island Tourist Information Centre Task Force."
When I asked Mr Ladle about this, he said that they were confident about the success of the action plan, though they had a slight concern about it.
"We are generally confident about the success of our action plan, though there is a slight concern", he said, yesterday.
"This slight concern relates to the fact that, due to increasingly restrictive economic parameters, we now only have one Tourist Information Centre on the Island, at 132 Goitre Street, Ryde.
"We are in the process of negotiating with a Mr Nuncible, a retired children's entertainer from Brighstone, who has kindly offered us the use of his redundant Punch & Judy stall for the summer on quite a competitive leasehold basis. This we hope to redecorate and use as a mobile 'Touring Tourist Information Centre', to relieve the load on the Centre at Ryde, which can deal with as many as 8 visitors on a busy summer afternoon.
"We had a member of staff off sick with stress over Easter after having to deal with as many as 2 general enquiries about Island attractions in one morning. We are confident that, if we can lease Mr Nuncible's stall, we will be able to avoid this kind of regrettable overload of our Ryde operatives."
I asked Eric Ladle if he was totally confident about his optimism in view of this concern. He explained that they could, thankfully, still be bullish in the face of the challenge.
"Oh yes, I think we can, thankfully, still be bullish in our response to the challenges we face", he explained, yesterday.
"We have great hopes for our Summer Publicity Offensive, by which we aim to spread the word about a host of new attractions who are all simply raring to go this year.
"Although we have to operate within increasingly challenging economic parameters, we are still confident. This is where our Task Force, with its Flexible Action Plan, should come into its own."
Eric Ladle outlined just one aspect of this action plan.
"We have already - following due process of competitive tender - identified a loud hailer supplier in Rottingdean, on the mainland. Our aim is to purchase a loud hailer by means of which our 'Touring Information Centre' can advertise the host of new Island attractions as it tours the towns and villages of our Island. This is a flexible and economic solution and will facilitate massive savings in IT equipment, website design and leaflet production."
Finally, Eric Ladle was delighted to take advantage of my offer to list one or two of the new Island attractions at the foot of this article.
So then. Here is a thought. Whether you are a visitor to our beautiful Island, or you actually live here, why not explore our unique Island attractions? Discover something different today!
The Isle of Wight Boasts a Plethora of Brand-New Attractions. Why Go Elsewhere When There's All This and More to Explore?
Slug World, Adgestone: Discover an unknown world of slug life at Slug World. See slugs in their natural realm. Have your photo taken with a slug! "We enjoyed the Slug's Tea Party." "I really saw things from the slugs' perspective." "Our twins loved feeding lettuce to the slugs."
Bluebottle & Toad Sanctuary, Ningwood: Mrs Cusp has been saving bluebottles and toads since 1976. This stunning collection is housed in a converted outside lavatory (bluebottle) and a fleet of old tin hipbaths (toad). "What May Cusp doesn't know about bluebottles is more than our whole family - including Uncle Nanketer - has forgotten." "It was amazing to see how the bluebottles and toads are such happy bedfellows and true pals." "An emotional journey for our son, who becomes a bishop this year."
The Longstone Viewing Gallery, Mottistone: The only station on the Island where you can view a megalithic monument from moment to moment. Utterly unique. Experience the Longstone in all its moods, with every nuance interpreted by our expert guides. Enjoy single taster sessions or go for the whole 'multi-megalithic marathon' series of 5 consecutive days. No cameras please. "Monumental!" "A truly meditative milestone!" "I really feel that I know the stone now. It will always be with me." "The stone was speaking to me; if only I knew how to answer it." "I swear I saw it grow over the 5 days!"