Ask the average Dundonian to name a famous travel guidebook and more likely than not they’ll say Lonely Planet.
It is the world’s biggest publisher of guidebooks and, for many, the final word in tourist advice.
Following their first guide, 1973s Across Asia on the Cheap, founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler have recruited writers to share their knowledge of the world’s travel hotspots – including Dundee.
The company has developed a reputation for telling it like it is – and an entry on the City of Discovery, published in 1999, is no different.
“Poor Dundee,” it read. “This grey city is an unfortunate example of the worst of 1960s and 70s town planning – ugly blocks of flats and office buildings joined by unsightly concrete walkways.
“Once, there were more millionaires per head in Dundee than anywhere in Britain. Today it has the highest rate of unemployment in Scotland, second in the UK only to Liverpool.”
That said, the guide, published a year after planners began examining the Waterfront, recognised the city’s ambitions as a tourist destination.
And the Lonely Planet writers got one thing about the city bang-on.
They said: “Despite the feeling of desolation here, the vigour that remains in the city is in the hearts of Dundonians, who are among the friendliest, most welcoming and most entertaining people you’ll meet anywhere in the country.”
And just three years later, Lonely Planet recognised a city on the up, with the opening of Verdant Works and the DCA.
“Dundee enjoys perhaps the finest location of any Scottish city, spreading along the northern shore of the Firth of Tay,” the guide said in 2002.
“Despite the feeling of desolation in parts of the town, there’s a new feeling of optimism here.”
The man behind the 2002 entry, and every Dundee entry since that date, is travel writer Neil Wilson, who said Dundee had undergone a “brilliant” transformation since he first began writing about the city.
He said: “My first memories were driving across the Tay Road Bridge and seeing these horrible concrete buildings and the walkways. But when you got across and turned back to look (across the Tay) you’d just think, ‘wow’. It was the contrast between that first impression and the setting that stayed with me.”
Neil’s most recent entry, published last year, couldn’t be more different from that written by his predecessor two decades ago.
“Dundee enjoys perhaps the finest location of any Scottish city, spreading along the northern shore of the Firth of Tay, and boasts tourist attractions of national importance in Discovery Point and the Verdant Works museum,” he wrote.
“Add in the attractive seaside town of Broughty Ferry and the Dundonians themselves – among the friendliest, most welcoming and most entertaining people you’ll meet – and Dundee is definitely worth a stopover.”
The world’s biggest travel guide has recognised that Dundee is not the same city it was 20 years ago.
An article published on Lonely Planet’s website in March called it “Scotland’s City of Design”.
Acknowledging the links now forged between old and new, author Paula Hardy wrote: “Dundee’s design story isn’t just a bridge to the past, but a path to the future.”
Council leader John Alexander, said Lonely Planet’s shifting view on Dundee shows how the city has “changed and improved”.
He added: “It’s been a long journey but one which is positive, has created a real buzz in and outwith the city and is delivering economic and cultural growth.
“The reputation of the city among Dundonians has improved significantly and people are proud to say that they are from Dundee.
“I am pleased the developments that have been made are recognised and highlighted in such an influential publication.”