Next Homecoming event given date in busy diary for 2014

ALEX Salmond today announced Scotland will stage a second Homecoming celebration in 2014 to coincide with the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

The First Minister unveiled the plan as he published an independent evaluation showing the 2009 Homecoming had exceeded its target for extra tourism revenue.

The study, by EKOS, showed last year's programme, built around the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns' birth, attracted 95,000 additional visitors and generated 53.7 million, exceeding the 44m target.

Dozens of events were staged in the Capital, including the centrepiece event, The Gathering, which saw 50,000 people from around the world flock to Holyrood Park. There was also controversy, however, after it emerged The Gathering had lost 600,000, despite receiving 500,000 of public funding.

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Despite this, today's report said it generated 154m of positive global media coverage for Scotland.

Mr Salmond said: "In 2014 the eyes of the world will be on Scotland.

"In this year of celebration, repeating the remarkable success and benefits of Homecoming 2009 is an excellent opportunity to attract tourism and investment and showcase the very best of Scotland."

He also announced a new digital resource that will showcase Homecoming 2009 to audiences at home and abroad.

The Homecoming Scotland Digital Archives and Exhibition Project, designed by Queen Margaret University, will use new Microsoft technology to allow users to learn more about the diverse events of Homecoming 2009 and increase interest in Homecoming 2014.

An archivist will collate Homecoming documents, brochures, articles and video, which will be digitised and made available online from January next year. A public exhibition will begin in the summer.

Mr Salmond said: "The archive underlines our reputation for innovation and has the potential to become a model for the future.

"This groundbreaking new product will ensure that the success of the celebration of Scotland and its many contributions to the world will be available for everyone to enjoy for generations to come."

Dr Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said last year's Homecoming had sparked huge interest all over the world.

"VisitScotland will once again seize the tremendous opportunity that Homecoming represents. Whichever country visitors are travelling from, I have no doubt they will leave with memories they will treasure."

Dr Petra Wend, principal and vice-patron of Queen Margaret University, said the Homecoming Archive presented an exciting opportunity to collect, catalogue and preserve materials associated with the Scottish Homecoming 2009.

She said: "The archive will be of great use to all those involved in promoting tourism and economic development."

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