Homecoming race row over airbrushed Asian

TOURISM chiefs have been left with red faces after a flagship initiative was hit by an embarrassing race row.

The original promotional poster for next year's much-vaunted Homecoming Scotland event featured hundreds of smiling, and exclusively white, revellers marching behind a bagpiper.

But now a solitary Asian man has been "air brushed" into a rejigged version of the image in an belated attempt to reflect the diversity of modern Scotland. But the move backfired when campaigners for racial equality attacked the change.

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The Scottish Government's Homecoming 2009 event is a 5m tourism campaign, which is aiming to get thousands of people of Caledonian descent to return to their ancestral homeland.

But Sunny Hundal, editor of the magazine Asians In Media, described the attempts to doctor the Homecoming posters as outrageous and an insult to the Asian community.

He said: "These are proud Scottish Asians, who insist on their Scottishness, not their Britishness, and they are as much a part of the country as anybody else. It is amazing that a government department doesn't accept that, and even more incredible that they had to think about it after the event."

Geoff Palmer, the president of the Edinburgh and Lothians Race Relations Council, felt the switch was "tokenism" aimed at deflecting claims that the initiative was being aimed solely at affluent, white Americans.

VisitScotland, the government tourism agency, said no offence had been intended by the change and that no complaints had been made about the original image.