Haud me back time again with our public tourism expenditure.
Last month it was free measuring glasses being given out in our Spars so we could tell how much drink was in a bottle of Budweiser and a bottle of Bordeaux.
This month it's giveway Saltires! The Daily Record reported that the government has spent £300K on giving away Scottish flags at tourism events since coming into power.
Culture minister Fiona Hyslop said: "The Scottish government use the Saltire to promote Scotland at large scale national and international events, such as St Andrew's Day, Scotland Week and Burns Night. It is of real benefit to Scotland in terms of tourism and the promotion of our nation abroad."
And then the punchline was the brazen breakdown of cost, "The average annual expenditure on promotional flags over the four years from 2007 to 2011 is £78,888."
That's okay then it was only £315,552 spent on giving away promo gifts. Yup I'm convinced that the return on investment on that one is pretty high too. Surprisingly though the statment was not accompanied by the (usual) economic impact figures. It did not therefore claim to have a return on investment of 30:1, it didn't say the flag waving exercise was worth £1.2 billion to the Scottish Tourism economy nor did it claim to have created a full time equivalent of 123 jobs across Scotland. It didn't even claim to have helped improve the health of the nation by encouraging lifting and repeated movement of the lower (flag holding) arm. We can be thankful for that then!
Solution? Yeah easy to criticise and be cynical I know. The argument is not whether flag waving may be good at media covered events but could they not just have found a sponsor and avoided any public money being involved? The Daily Record for instance? (or The Sun for balance!) Didn't Morrison's give away tens of thousands of Scotland flags ahead of every Scotland international as team sponsor. The idea that there is noone creative enough to have identified ways that expenditure on a commerically viable promo campaign could have been avoided is the key worry.
Aaaargh.... simple solutions eh. Who needs them!