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HOMECOMING SCOTLAND ON TRACK TO

DELIVER SUCCESS FOR SCOTTISH TOURISM


As the curtain closes on Homecoming 2009, interim results are showing that the event has already been a major success for Scottish tourism.

Final evaluation is due on the project in Spring 2010, but early results are already showing that the project is well on track to beat the target of £44million worth of extra tourism revenue as well as delivering a range of wider benefits.

An independent interim analysis surveying around a quarter of the 112 funded events is showing £19.4M of additional income for Scotland - already nearly half way to the target set at the beginning of the project. As this doesn’t include most of the funded and partner events, and the impact derived from the wider marketing activity, organisers are confident that the project will more than exceed targets.

As the Homecoming Finale closes next week with more than 40 events celebrating St Andrews Day, the programme is being hailed as a major success by tourism businesses, event organisers and public and private partners.

The success of Homecoming is testament to one of the biggest partnership campaigns ever, with event organisers, local and national government, local communities, schools, churches and businesses engaging with the project across Scotland and beyond.

Some 92% of event organisers surveyed said they would take part in another themed year. Underlining the legacy value for the events industry the report highlights that the majority of events had, as a result of their participation, been able to extend their programme, work with national partners, target new audiences, introduce new marketing activity, develop their marketing databases and increase media coverage and contacts amongst other benefits.

The many sell-out events and record breaking audience figures have combined with a major UK and international marketing campaign to ensure that Scottish tourism has thrived in one of the most difficult economic situations ever.

Tourism visitor numbers show that Scotland is outperforming the rest of the UK in long haul markets by seven per cent and although there has been a drop overall (2.7% to Scotland compared to 10% to the UK) the Homecoming effect, along with “staycations” and the strength of the Euro has boosted European and domestic figures.

Homecoming Scotland marketing efforts in Europe and in the UK have paid dividends with increased visitors from Europe (up 14.7%) and from the UK (up 3.5%) More Scots have decided to holiday in Scotland (up 11%) than last year and anecdotal evidence shows that many have been encouraged to stay at home because of the amount of events on their doorstep.

Key indicators for the success of the year so far include:

• Increases in occupancy for Scottish tourism businesses (3% increase for guest houses and B&Bs), and Scottish visitor attractions (up 3.5%)
• Hundreds of public and private sector organisations engaged in Homecoming
• An increased database of around 200,000 new visitor prospects through our core marketing activity and a further 350,000 names from campaigns where Homecoming is featured.
• The most comprehensive Diaspora and Scots interest group database ever developed with more than 6,500 organisations worldwide
• 30 international travel trade partnerships within VisitScotland’s Homecoming marketing campaigns (9 airlines and 21 travel trade companies)
• More than 30 partnerships with key brands and companies - from Coca Cola to Walkers Shortbread, First Bus and Clydesdale Bank
• The international I am a Scot campaign reached 95 million people across the world
• More than 400 events were held throughout the year - attracting UK and overseas visitors - and many smashed audience targets
• 86 international travel companies developed Homecoming themed products and 53 international operators carried Homecoming themed promotions
• 71% of tourism businesses say that Homecoming Scotland was a positive initiative for Scotland
• The Caledonia TV advert has been played across the world to millions of viewers as the soundtrack to the initiative, with research showing that 78% of UK viewers felt more positive about Scotland after viewing it (87% in Scotland) 
• International marketing activity ranged from joint European Promotions with Easyjet, a joint promotion in Russia with Irn Bru, and the ‘I’m a Scot ‘ Homecoming campaign.

The event programme has been heralded as a major success with many of the events breaking audience records - from the StAnza Poetry Festival reporting a 15% increase in ticket sales; to the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival increasing its attendance to 24,000 visitors (up around 33%); to the Royal Highland Show breaking attendance records and doubling its international audience; to Perthshire Amber achieving its most successful year yet, increasing ticket sales by more than a third. Thousands of visitors were attracted to the new Taste of the Tattoo events at locations across Scotland and other brand new events such as The Crossing, celebrating the Caledonian Canal and Burns Light in Dumfries surpassed expectations.

Tourism businesses, in particular those who proactively developed Homecoming programmes, are reporting it has helped boost their business this year. In an economic survey by VisitScotland, 65% of those questioned said that Homecoming had had an impact on tourism in Scotland. Stephen Davies, General Manager of the Culloden Hotel just outside Inverness said: "Homecoming 2009 has been a phenomenal success. I would go as far as to say that it has helped us bite back at the credit crunch and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Ten per cent of our guests have mentioned Homecoming as part of their motivation to visit Scotland."

First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Homecoming 2009 has captured the imagination of people throughout the country and across the globe. More than 400 events have taken place since January, celebrating our national bard, Robert Burns, and many of Scotland’s greatest contributions to the world. As we approach the finale weekend, I am delighted that an independent interim analysis indicated that the Year of Homecoming 2009 will be a success both for Scottish tourism and the economy.

“Despite the economic downturn, Homecoming has proved a real success story and I would encourage everyone to get involved in one of the fantastic finale events taking place across Scotland this weekend.”

Philip Riddle Chief Executive of VisitScotland said: “We knew that this year was going to be tough but we are delighted that we are actually beating world trends in tourism and seeing gains in the UK and Europe. There is no doubt that one of the reasons for this is the Homecoming Scotland effect. Not only has it created a single campaign for everyone to get behind but it has really captured the imagination of Scottish people and inspired them to rediscover their own country.”

Marie Christie, Project Director of Homecoming said: “None of this success would have been possible without the commitment, dedication and partnership shown by individuals and organisations across Scotland. The programme has been created and delivered by communities as a response to the Homecoming opportunity, presenting a diverse range of events celebrating Scotland’s culture and some of our great contributions to the world. From schools to major festivals participation has been truly extensive, with each organisation developing their own Homecoming activity and playing their part in delivering the celebrations. This kind of partnership working is one of the strongest legacies of the year.”

Ends

For further information, please contact:



Barbara Clark, Head of Corporate Communications
VisitScotland
Telephone: 0131 472 2212
Mobile: 07818 002999
Email: barbara.clark@visitscotland.com   

Alison Robb, Corporate Press Manager
VisitScotland
Telephone: 0131 472 2219
Mobile: 07770 728 367
Email: alison.robb@visitscotland.com  

Notes to Editors



• The Homecoming Scotland Finale Celebrations will present Scotland’s Biggest Ever St Andrew’s Do from 26th - 30th November 2009. With more than 40 events and opportunities to visit some of Scotland’s major attractions for free across Scotland, a full programme of activity is available at www.homecomingscotland2009.com/finale  

• St Andrew’s Day, 30 November, is Scotland’s national day. It is a time for everyone at home and friends across the globe to celebrate Scotland and its people - our history and culture but also our diverse and vibrant contemporary society. Full information on St Andrew’s Day, including its history, local and international events, Visit for Free visitor attractions across Scotland, and ideas for hosting your own event, can be found on www.scotland.org/standrewsday 

• The Homecoming Scotland Finale Celebrations herald the start of the winter festival season in Scotland, inviting visitors to extend their stay beyond the St Andrew’s weekend to sample the sights and sounds in a range of towns and cities.

• Homecoming Scotland 2009 is an inspirational programme of events running from Burns Night to St Andrew’s Day which motivates people with Scottish ancestry, as well as those who simply love Scotland, to “Come Home” in 2009.

• Homecoming Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government and is managed by EventScotland the national events agency in partnership with VisitScotland, the country’s national tourism agency. Homecoming is part financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund.