One thing that puzzled me when I returned from New Zealand almost five years ago was why isn’t Shrewsbury, like Christchurch, deluged with tourists? Christchurch is, or was pre-earthquakes, an attractive city with a small river, the Avon, some historic buildings, a popular tourist tram service, a botanical garden and a cathedral. Everyone knows what happened to that cathedral after the earthquakes, but when I was there it was intact and thriving, and the cathedral square and surrounding area were thronged with tourists.
Then I returned to Shrewsbury and looked at my home town through new eyes. The River Severn is far larger and its river walks more impressive. The town’s buildings reek of its rich history, there are churches galore, many of them older by far than Christchurch’s cathedral, we have a castle, museums, a plethora of cafés and restaurants, and a large variety of interesting shops beyond the large chains. I wish we did have trams in Shrewsbury, but apart from those there is more here.
So what, I wonder, is the difference? I can only conclude that New Zealand has fewer large cities and towns and the country itself is a popular tourist destination. In the UK, Shrewsbury looks like a backwater town, and there are many other scenic and attractive towns and cities to choose from. If it was in New Zealand I’m sure it would be very popular indeed.
It’s a bit of a shame for the several gift shops in Shrewsbury town centre that had catered for tourists for years but have recently closed down, though.