Homecoming News: Homecoming Scotland 2009

Item Posted: Wednesday 17th December, 2008


Packaging Scotland for foreign tourism is nothing new, but the Highland Year of Culture in 2007 proved that co-ordinating and promoting events under one banner had potential to increase tourism and benefit businesses in many parts of Scotland. The idea behind Homecoming 2009 was, originally, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth with a year-long programme of events across the country. As the PR and Marketing people got hold of it, the idea became wider, although for some Burns enthusiasts maybe watered down from its original objective.

Attracting the Scottish diasporas ‘back home’ is now going to depend on a odd seeming mixture of ancestry, golf, whisky, Burns and a catch-all ‘great minds and innovations and Scotland’s rich culture and heritage.’ There are estimated to be five people of Scots descent for every Scot still living at home. It will have to be seen whether the impact of the credit crunch, especially in the USA, will stall American tourism in 2009; and what impact the closure of Zoom airlines – one of the main cheap routes from Canada – will have, but the overall intentions and ambitions of the project should be welcomed.

Already key sponsorships have been announced. For example the Scottish Cup football tournament has been re branded as the Homecoming Scottish Cup. Alex Salmond, the First Minister, said: "Four million people across 40 countries watched the Scottish Cup last year and this year they will all be invited to be a part of our year of Homecoming. This funding will turn Scotland's premier domestic sporting cup competition into a cohesive celebration of national sporting success."

Culture Minister Linda Fabiani announced more than £190,000 of funding of key events around Scotland during a visit to New York. Central to this theme is the planned largest ever Gathering of the Clans in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, in July. With over 200,000 people in North America receiving monthly updates about events, and the biggest ever direct mailing campaign undertaken to ancestral Scots, there is little doubt that the Scottish Government is taking the initiative seriously. The question is what is in it for Cowal, in terms of business or tourism?

Initially it looked as though the main beneficiaries of funding would be just the major events and festivals. Cynics might argue that this was just a ploy to get money to these events under a new label, but to be fair, a number of new groups have put together innovative projects and received support, and an effective web site has been set up, which should give a real boost to the groups involved and a good first port of call for tourists, whether from abroad or home, to see what is on around Scotland throughout the year. What local councils, groups, and businesses do now will be the decisive factors as to which areas of Scotland reap the greatest rewards.

In Cowal, and close by, many of the Homecoming grant recipients are the key local big events – such as the Cowal Gathering, Cowalfest and the Connect Festival. Of course the Dunoon Observer will cover these well known events, as well as all the others, closer to the time they take place. The paper also wants to focus on what other groups are doing in the area both to add to the Homecoming celebrations and to improve the quality of life in the area. We will also discuss the initiatives taken by Argyll and Bute Council to ensure that the area is as fully involved in the celebrations as possible.

Homecoming Scotland 2009 www.homecomingscotland2009.com

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