Regardless of what sector we work in, we’ve heard it a thousand times over the past six months. “We are living in unprecedented times.” While we may be sick of hearing it, it holds true. And yet in spite of this time of exceptional change and uncertainty, there remain constants all around us. The environment in which we live, the mountains, the lochs, the forests and all their wildlife; they are untouched by this pandemic, oblivious to our societal problems and government restrictions. They existed here long before us, and will continue to exist long after we are gone.
As more and more people become aware of, and reflect on, the constancy of the outdoors and the solace it brings, the more they seek to explore it, to escape from their homes and use it as a means to reconnect with themselves, their loved ones and nature. Even against the boom in rural tourism in recent years, this summer has seen an unparalleled exodus from the towns and cities into our countryside and wildernesses. Though the majority of those now reconnecting with the outdoors are doing so in a responsible, safe and legal way, we’ve all doubtlessly seen our share of media stories about accidents, large gatherings, parking chaos, waste, fires and so on.
The upshot of all this is that the responsibilities of outdoor companies as mediators of the connection between the public and our landscape have never been more important. From large organisations to local businesses, we have always had a duty of care towards both our customers and the environment we help them enjoy. However, this duty has now expanded, not just to a new and wider audience, but also a new and wider set of risks associated with a pandemic. Never has it been more critical to be present, available and reaching out to those who use our products, services and more generally the outdoors.
As an outdoor services provider working in hazardous environments and conditions, maximising safety and minimising risk has always been at the forefront of Scotica’s considerations on-location – as will be the case with any other business in this field. The effect of the pandemic on our work, therefore, should only constitute another set of potential hazards to mitigate in our operations. While it is critical we follow government guidance carefully (and be aware when it changes as it most certainly will), in many cases it does not prohibit an enjoyable and responsible experience in nature. The outdoors is not closed.
And when it comes to communications, there is a positive we can glean from all this. Now is the best chance we have ever had to reconnect with the public and show them what this country truly has to offer. At a time when international travel is restricted and may not be advisable for six months or more, our duty is not only to the safeguarding of our beautiful places but also championing them. There are always adventures closer to home to be had. To reach people in their homes now requires new methods of digital communication, fresh strategies and approaches, to make them think, feel, and show them what this “new normal” can look like.