In Switzerland and the UK, tourism has been hit by poor sunlight

Image copyright Steven Liew Image caption An aerial view of the modern Drangkor National Park at night, with its setting sun

There are many potential reasons for the recession of European tourism, but one of the bigger challenges has always been the lack of daylight hours in some areas of the continent.

In the UK we get five and a half hours’ work-hours in daylight, compared to 10 in the Czech Republic, 20 in Russia and even more in a smaller neighbouring EU country, Estonia.

It has taken local firms plenty of time to learn to set up with the wrong sun-setting times

And there are some that even trifle with it.

In the modern world a three or four hour shift is pretty unimportant. Apart from the trade-off between daylight hours and sleep, a regionalised system of early and late hours means you can end up sleeping and eating together in the same room.

Wake up close to midnight and wake up close to 9am, and think you are losing a few hours a day – why bother?


Image copyright AFP Image caption A young couple take their 10-month-old baby for a stroll near the Lake Geneva fence in January

So why have tourism operators in this country lagged so behind?

Research by the Scottish Natural Heritage and Britain’s Emerging Sectors suggests understanding the needs of workers in locations far removed from more developed parts of the country has taken time to overcome.

Common facility allocations for buildings, toilets and street lighting simply haven’t kept pace with the big changes and these staff shortages and the often low pay meant hotel and restaurant operators and coffee shops couldn’t make the most of the potential of opening their doors when many others in the country were closing.

While much of Europe changes with so much of the population working during the day, staff in Scotland and Britain can stay behind with the lack of daylight – and this presents a mixed-up ecosystem where traffic congestion is caused by slow down on the M74 and M60.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Workmen from Orkney worked on the construction of a four-lane road in the port of Stromness last year

As a result, it has taken local firms plenty of time to learn to set up with the wrong sun-setting times.

“We knew when and where the right windows to start our businesses were,” says ASG Investments chair Martin Wilson.

“We wanted our staff to also be able to celebrate independence day, celebrate St Andrew’s Day and we wanted to ensure our staff – a majority of them will be Scots – did not get drenched on their Hampden Day by the rain.”

Over the last year their British Splash café at Newhaven Marina in East Sussex has doubled in size, sourcing the drinks they sell from around the world and even using a Japanese flavour sea urchin gelatine ice cream.

Image copyright STV Image caption A 30-minute commute can leave locals up all night waiting for a bus

“We’ve gone all in with the sun-set,” says Mr Wilson.

“We actually held an unveiling ceremony for our grand opening at 7pm when the sun starts coming up on the beach at 7am.”

Is the sun coming back?

The London Evening Standard, which reports a new push by airports and hotel chains to target Britons travelling abroad, is promising many other attractions will follow suit.

The sun rises at 0800GMT, instead of 0600GMT in many parts of the UK.

Image copyright /var_1asr4s Image caption The BBC weather forecast from a traditional time zone near Jokkmokht, Kazakhstan

The suggestion that the country can learn from the European woes has some difficulty.

Yes, many others in Europe are suffering a tourism slump. In the five main resort areas of Bulgaria the number of hotel rooms fell by nearly 20% from 2015 to 2018.

But its less obvious that British holidaymakers are the most important ailing ones.

For Russia has seen a 32% drop in tourism expenditure in the two years from 2014-2018. And amid declining GDP, domestic tourism has suffered too.

The reforms that have happened so far simply haven’t been fast enough to deliver the much-needed jobs they were supposed to bring.

Have you had the same problems as those in Switzerland? How does your country think of its tourists? Share your views using the form below.

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