Scots urged outdoors in £3.4m boost for tourism

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People are being encouraged to enjoy the great outdoors this spring as part of a tourism ­campaign in the Year of Natural Scotland.

Thousands of free or discounted bus, ferry and train tickets will be up for grabs before Big April Adventures, a £3.4 million initiative to get people to visit the country’s favourite natural landmarks.

A television advert features gannets on Ailsa Craig, off the Ayrshire coast, and red deer on the Isle of Rum. It also shows scenes of white water rafting in Perthshire and mountain biking in Torridon, in the Highlands.

As well as tempting people out of their armchairs, VisitScotland is targeting key international markets such as North America, France and Germany.

The campaign is expected to bring £68m to the Scottish economy.

VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said: “The Year of Natural Scotland is a wonderful opportunity to showcase Scotland’s spectacular natural environment and our new advert shows the country in all its majestic glory, ranging from wildlife to exciting outdoor activities.

“The Big April Adventures is quite simply a magnificent opportunity for people to travel to the wonderful Scottish landscapes for free.”

A major ticket give-away from ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne and ScotRail will see at least 15,000 people enjoy free travel during April. Bus firm Stagecoach has also ­offered 5,000 money-off vouchers that can be redeemed throughout the month.

Anyone can apply from the end of February and winners will be decided by a draw.

Tourism minister Fergus Ewing said: “The Big April ­Adventures is a superb initiative, led by VisitScotland, and I’m ­delighted that Scotland’s transport providers have been so supportive so far. Throughout 2013 I want to see as many Scots as possible get out and see our wonderful country for themselves.”