British countryside’s ‘white and middle class’ image puts off Asian visitors, claims BBC presenter

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The British countryside’s “white and middle class” image puts off Asian visitors, a BBC presenter has claimed.

Nihal Arthanayake said that there is an illusion that rural areas are unwelcoming to ethnic minorities.

The broadcaster, author and presenter of BBC 4’s Winter Walks said that this image has impacted the number of non-white visitors to some of the UK’s most celebrated landscapes.

The 51-year-old – who is of Sri Lankan descent – told the Country Walking magazine that in reality walkers are “happy to see you”.

“There is this barrier; a perception, often perpetuated by social media trolls, that the countryside is inherently white and middle class,” he said. 

‘People are happy to see you’

“I think it does have an impact because I’m often surprised by how few Asian families I see in the Peak District when the communities of Manchester and Sheffield are so close.

“But when you go out there, overwhelmingly you will find that people are just happy. Happy to be there and happy to see you.

“We live in one of the most tolerant countries on the planet, and whether I’m walking by myself or with the family, I’ve never felt anything other than welcome.

“The more people we can spread the word to, that walking is healthy and wonderful and normal, the fewer barriers there will be.

“And the more conversations people have when they’re outdoors, the more they will feel it’s a place where they belong. Just little chats. But they make a big difference.”