Monday, 26 July 2010

Christian Tourism Trail For Scotland?

The newspapers today are reporting that The Church of Scotland has suggested harnessing the religious significance and fascinating history of the Scottish saints to attract a new wave of tourists and pilgrims.

In an editorial of the August edition of Life and Work, Lynne McNeil writes: "I have often felt that the Church should engage more in the business of tourism.

"At the moment, it is piecemeal and depends very much on local congregations."

Mrs McNeil highlights the tourist popularity of lona, St Giles in Edinburgh and Glasgow Cathedral. She adds: "But what about the stories of faith that inspired the buildings and are important to local communities?

"Scotland has a rich tradition of saints and spirituality. However, much of that is rarely promoted outside Scotland. Tour parties from Scotland regularly visit the Holy Land on pilgrimages, but what about the rich seam of heritage and spirituality on our doorstep? Perhaps the answer lies in the Church developing its own informal tourism strategy. In these financially straitened times, in both the Church and secular society, every opportunity should be grasped."

Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland was quoted in The Scotsman: "Our shared Christian heritage could help us through the recession. Most of our history is pre-Reformation, but I agree entirely with the Church of Scotland over a Christian tourism initiative. We had been thinking about writing to VisitScotland about producing a Christian Heritage Trail leaflet for tourists. After all, we have a Whisky Trail in Speyside, why not a Christian Heritage Trail? There is an enormous interest in Scotland's history of Christianity and there is an opportunity to better promote visiting sites that are pivotal to our Christian past. There is also a potentially huge overseas market among the Scottish Diaspora."

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: "Scotland is viewed as a very spiritual place to visit."

Not sure whether that last reference was related to the whisky trail or the potential of a Christian Trail but it seems like an extremely positive move and one that has this year already got some foundations to build on from the work done on the Cluny 2010 Celebrations in Paisley, Ayrshire and the South West of Scotland.

Any thoughts on how it should be tackled?

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