Wednesday, 27 May 2009

How is Homecoming For You?

Not sure whether I sensed a change of tone as we move into June. The following quote was taken from a Herald report on an event in Linlithgow last weekend and ended with what very much appears to be a cut and paste job from an offical press release. (Overly cynical?) Does it seem to be the first indication that the hype is over and that now the other side of the slope will focus on how the recession and global events impacted on the plans for the tourism revival that Homecoming was feted to bring? In reality what has been the impact at a local, regional and national level.

Strikingly clear is that the rest of the UK has not been left behind in marketing their history and heritage this year. A cursory viewing of any major sports event on TV over the weekend would have brought you adverts for Yorkshire, the north east of England and a host VisitUs.coms - no promotion of Scotland to the key UK markets at any of these events.

So are the sceptics right? Was Homecoming Scotland a cynical political move? The key concern must however be that there appears to be no post Homecoming plan. What is the strategy for 2010 - where is Homecoming taking us? Anyway, here's the last three or four paragraphs from the Herald:-
"Homecoming Scotland 2009, a year-long programme built on the Burns anniversary, has been billed as celebrating Scotland's contributions to the world. Key themes are golf, whisky, great minds and innovations, culture and heritage, and it is expected to generate an extra £40m in tourism income.

However, the recession has severely hit the number of visitors coming to the UK as well as the amount of Brits heading abroad in the past year. Over the 12 months to March 2009, the number of visits by overseas residents fell by 2.2 million, a fall of 7%, to 31million.

The Scottish Government, which is behind the event, said although economic conditions are tough, the Year of Homecoming is proving Scotland is a unique selling point to attract visitors from across the world. The Scottish Government spokesman said: "A year of celebration based on ancestral links is particularly appealing to some of our long-haul markets, such as in North America and Australia. The Homecoming Scotland programme is being promoted by extensive marketing and PR campaigns delivered in close partnership with VisitScotland and EventScotland in order to maximise the impact of the project and leverage existing work and relationships.

"That activity is focused on delivering our targets across the extensive range of events taking place across the year. Target in terms of visitor numbers is 100,000 additional international visitors. We expect to exceed this target."

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