If the Loch Ness Monster didn’t exist — and it almost certainly doesn’t — it would be necessary to invent it.
Why? Because an entire branch of the Scottish tourism industry relies on it.
Forget the fact that the loch is well worth visiting anyway for its sheer beauty and historical and cultural associations, there’s nothing like a mystery to drive dollars into the bank accounts of tour operators, hotels, souvenir stalls and the like.
The same goes for Bigfoot — is it the missing link that remains eternally elusive or a figment of the imaginations of entrepreneurs wanting to boost tourism in remote parts of California? — plus the Yeti, haunted pubs, the Bermuda Triangle and other phenomena that exist on the fringes of reality.
You go to Loch Ness to see “Nessie”. You don’t see Nessie, but you have enough of a good time to go back and have another look, or at least recommend the journey to others.
And every so often a media story like this appears to keep your curiosity piqued.
Now, I’ve been to Nessie country; I’ve stayed there and done the boat trip to Urquhart Castle. I’ve even spoken about it on radio. It’s a fabulous holiday experience in its own right. The Nessie myth just sexes t up a bit. And the locals, who no doubt know the truth, are more than happy to sell you a hat or a T-shirt or a stuffed toy.
The moral of the story? If you chase rainbows, you’re going to be disappointed when you don’t find the pot of gold. But if you travel for the sheer romance of sampling something that’s exciting and new to you, you’ll never be disappointed.