A British Asian BBC presenter has said that Asian families avoid visiting countryside in UK due to the impression that these areas are ‘white and middle class’ and are not ‘minority friendly’.
BBC Radio 5 Live host Nihal Arthanayke pointed out that social media trolls have created such an image which drives non-white visitors away from some of the country’s most celebrated landscapes.
According to Arthanayke, few Asian families visit spots such as the Lake District though it is near to minority communities in Manchester and Sheffield.
However, the broadcaster, who is of Sri Lankan descent, revealed that walkers in countryside are happy to see visitors from Asian communities.
“There is this barrier; a perception, often perpetuated by social media trolls, that the countryside is inherently white and middle class. 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,” Arthanayke was quoted as saying by the Country Walking magazine.
“But when you go out there, overwhelmingly you will find that people are just happy. Happy to be there and happy to see you.”
According to him, the UK is one of the most tolerant countries on the planet. The BBC host testified that he never felt anything other than welcome when walked alone or with the family in the country.
“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,” he is reported to have said.
In June 2020, BBC programme the Countryfile revealed that ethnic minority visitors feel unwelcome in the countryside because it is a ‘white environment’. The TV programme was investigating the independent research from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Its presenter Ellie Harrison during the time said that the British countryside is racist and white people needed to acknowledge they have benefited from the past.
Essex-native Arthanayake started out by promoting rap shows while he was doing his A-levels. Later, he opened his own nightclub named the Bombay Bronx in May 2004.
His first TV programme came in 1999 when he was began presenting ‘Webwise‘ live for BBC Two.
Now, Arthanayake presents an afternoon of news, big name interviews and conversation.