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New Scottish tourism drive hopes to bag bloggers

FIRST it was Munro Bagging. Then it was Castle Bagging.

• The Ardbeg distillery, already listed on the website

Now a new campaign hopes to make "Bagging Scotland" the latest craze by encouraging people to travel to every corner of the country and post details of their adventures on the internet.

The online venture, which its creators predict will "save Scottish tourism", will urge people to go on holiday to collect visits to everything from islands, whisky distilleries, beaches and historic monuments to mountains, pubs and journeys.

They will then be urged to create their own travelogues to share with the world by posting pictures, film footage, audio tracks and personal blogs on Bagging Scotland's website.

The campaign will deploy the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to help promote what is billed as Scotland's newest tourism trail.

A Bagging Scotland campervan will be touring the country in March to coincide with the campaign's official launch, while it is hoped special vehicles may even be available to hire to prospective "Baggers."

The two entrepreneurs behind the venture, Glasgow-based Victor Brierley and Ramsay MacFarlane, say they want to offer an "unsanitised" alternative to the likes of VisitScotland and help highlight many of Scotland's undiscovered gems.

However, the national agency is one of a number of major tourism bodies in talks with the pair and VisitScotland has already agree to throw its weight behind Bagging Scotland.

Mr Brierely, 46, who was born in Edinburgh, is a former PR manager for the SECC in Glasgow who also has a track record in the advertising industry. Mr MacFarlane, 22, has launched a string of tourism-based websites for various clients since graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University.

The craze of Castle Bagging was credited by Historic Scotland for creating a huge boost in visitor numbers in 2009.

One family was said to have visited 20 sites in just seven days.

The phenomena followed the success of "set-jetting" campaigns, which encourage film fans to visit their favourite movie locations.

The pre-launch website for Bagging Scotland already lists favourite distilleries such as Ardbeg on Islay and Highland Park in Orkney, as well as islands such as Unst, Eriskay and Skye.

The website states: "We will encourage Baggers to be funny, controversial, urbane, clever, but above all honest, when they're telling us about their conquests."

Mr Brierley, managing director of Bagging Scotland, said: "Everyone has heard of Munro-bagging, but its appeal is a bit limited if you don't fancy trailing up a mountain in your crampons.

"The idea for what we're doing is basically bagging for normal people.

"We're focusing a wee bit on castles, distilleries and islands, but it's by no means limited to them. Bagging is something for people to hang their hat on and give their trip a sense of purpose.

"A lot of traditional advertising of Scotland is all very soft and esoteric. I don't think Scotland is like that at all and we want the campaign to capture what the country and the people here are really like.

"VisitScotland will basically tell you that everything is fantastic, but we want our website to be warts and all, so that people can tell everyone if they didn't like something or it could be better."

A spokeswoman for VisitScotland said: "Tourism is everyone's business so we're delighted to hear that this new site is encouraging Scots and visitors to Scotland to explore new places around the country."

New figures released at the weekend revealed that Scotland enjoyed a bumper summer for tourism in 2009 – outperforming the rest of the UK.

Visitors spent about 540 million last summer – 38m more than in the same period in 2008.

Ten of the best places to bag in Scotland

1 CASTLEBAY, BARRA

Home of Kisimul Castle, which is located on its own island in the bay, and the scenic location for the filming of Ealing comedy Whisky Galore!

2 HAWES INN, SOUTH QUEENSFERRY

The famous inn beneath the Forth Bridge where author Robert Louis Stevenson found inspiration for Kidnapped.

3 OLD FORGE, INVERIE, KNOYDART

Mainland Britain's remotest pub, accessible only by a seven-mile sea crossing.

4 UNST, SHETLAND

Home of Britain's most northerly – and most elaborately decorated – bus shelter.

5 DESPERATE DAN STATUE, DUNDEE CITY CENTRE

The grizzly-faced strongman with a passion for cow pie is celebrated with a striking bronze statue in the home of his "birth", where publisher DC Thomson is based.

6 ITALIAN CHAPEL, LAMB HOLM, ORKNEY

The highly-ornate chapel built by Italian POWs during the Second World War, which survives as an enduring symbol of peace.

7 PENNAN, ABERDEENSHIRE

The village where much of Local Hero was filmed, which is still home to the red phone box featured in many of its best-remembered scenes.

8 BARNHILL, JURA

The bleak location still home to the cottage where George Orwell famously penned 1984 in the 1940s.

9 UIG SANDS, LEWIS

The spectacular west coast beach where the priceless Lewis Chessmen (pictured) were discovered in a sandbank in 1831.

10 KILCHOMAN DISTILLERY, ISLAY

The first new distillery to be built on Scotland's "whisky island" for 124 years and one of the smallest anywhere in Scotland.

• www.bagging-scotland.com

 
 
 

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