Robert Burns brings in more than £200 million for the Scottish economy every year

Robert Burns, circa 1785. Picture: Hulton Archive / Getty
Robert Burns, circa 1785. Picture: Hulton Archive / Getty
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Scotland's national bard is comparable only to Shakespeare for the amount of literati tourists he draws in.

Burns, who died in 1796, is best known for penning Auld Lang Syne.

Some 9.5 million people worldwide are estimated to attend Burns Suppers annually, and the January 25 celebrations generate £11 million turnover in Scotland each year.

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But centuries after his death, the poet is still generating cash for his homeland - and his 'brand' is worth nearly £140 million per year.

Academics at the University of Glasgow, led by Professor Murray Pittock, found that Burns economic and cultural importance to the Scottish economy is now estimated to be £203 million annually and the bard's brand is worth £139.5 million a year.

The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Ayrshire, is second only to Shakespeare among UK writers' museums in its visitor numbers, and Scotland is second only to London for tourists seeking cultural and heritage experiences.

Professor Pittock of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University's College of Arts said: "More than 250 years after his birth, Robert Burns, his life and work, still holds a huge fascination for a worldwide audience.

"Burns has universal appeal with his work being translated into every single major language including Russian, German, French and Chinese.

"While Auld Lang Syne is our New Year anthem and has been performed by everyone from Elvis Presley to Jimi Hendrix.

"We are very fortunate to have such an iconic Scottish figure like Burns.

"We have been able to put a value of over £200 million on the tourism, products, festivals and estimate an additional embedded brand value of almost £140 million which Burns brings to Scotland.

"What it shows is that Burns the Brand makes a huge contribution to the economy of Scotland.

"We hope that our research will help to inform and encourage Scotland to continue to develop plans to promote Burns at home and abroad.

"It also shows the great potential of Burns' brand to support regional inclusive growth from hotels and restaurants to food, drink and memorabilia."

The research was funded by the Scottish Government, and proposals to further generate cash from the writer's legacy included proposing Prestwick Airport, in Ayrshire, is renamed after Burns.

Better signposting on the M74 to highlight places of significance, and better education in local authority schools were also on the cards.

Economy Secretary Derek Mackay said: "The report highlights that the values and identity of Robert Burns - the lover of nature, the innovator, and the humanitarian - resonate with the identity of modern Scotland."