Joan McAlpine said that World Bank economists, commissioned by the BBC in 2003, calculated that Burns related tourism and merchandising, as well as the bonanza of the Burns supper season, with spending on everything from hospitality, whisky and haggis sales, kilt hire and even paying the piper, provided £157 million added value each year to the Scottish economy.
The MSP is calling for this economic impact assessment to be updated to reflect the opening of the Burns Birthplace museum and Scotland’s Winter Festival Programme, which includes Burns Night.
The MSP said: “I think we Scots are, in general, more confident about celebrating our cultural heritage today than we have been in the past, and I am really proud of the role that the SNP Scottish Government has played in promoting our precious cultural assets like the life and poetry of Rabbie Burns.
“Burns the brand helps promote Scotland’s exports and trade links through Burns suppers around the globe, including through more than 250 member clubs of the Robert Burns World Federation.
“And year-round Burns-related tourism is on the increase thanks to Burns Scotland partner destinations such as the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Ellisland Farm near Auldgirth, the Monument Centre in Kilmarnock and Burns House Museum in Mauchline, as well as numerous other places in Scotland associated with the poet.
“The Centre for Robert Burns Studies at Glasgow University has, in and of itself, been an income generator and job creator – with students from all over the world coming to study Burns and others writers of his period. The Centre secured an Arts and Humanities Research Council or AHRC grant worth £1.1 million towards the project editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century. Over 15 years it will produce a new multi volume edition of his entire work published by Oxford University Press and with an accompanying website and social media engagement.
“Of course, we cannot put a price on the cultural value of Burns. Burns cemented our national identify and self-confidence. But we can be sure that the Bard’s legacy wields soft power, spreading Scotland’s influence far and wide, and is a huge part of our contribution to the world.”