Homecoming Scotland: a stereotyped money-spinner


In the year 250AB (After Burns), the Scottish Government launches a national advertising campaign to boost our tourism industry. Homecoming 2009 aims to promote Scotland’s natural landscape and unique architecture. The tourists are supposed to fly in, spend a fortune and revitalise our flagging economy. Until you do the maths, that is; then you find that BAA and Donald Trump are the only ones who'll benefit.

Ask almost anyone Scottish and it's clear that this is an unpopular campaign. It makes a mockery of Scottish traditions, depicting Scots as Haggis-munching kilt-and-sporan-wearing bagpipe players; the latest attempt to corporatise Scotland into a postcard country. What is the justification of publicising a country widely known as one of the most beautiful and richly historic in the world by focusing on throwing a caber, and - you guessed it - playing golf!

It’s slightly suspicious we’re championing the sport which through Donald Trump’s endeavours will destroy a true tourist attraction: the Menie dunes. The Homecoming branding is supposed to appeal to stereotype-hungry Scottish descendants but ignores the basis of what our tourism sector depends on: Scottish people. Most money spent at tourist destinations in Scotland is by Scots; evidenced on several occasions, including after the 9/11 and foot and mouth, when spending at tourist destinations in Scotland actually went up, despite a significant decrease in overseas visitors.

It is neither surprising, nor unexpected that BAA back the scheme, proudly stating on the Aberdeen airport site that "with direct flights from more than 25 countries to Scotland, it’s never been easier to come home.” BAA doesn't want to promote ex-pats and foreign tourists; it wants us to "come home" after we’ve spent all our money somewhere else and used one of their airport to get there.

The aviation industry claims that promoting airport expansion will bring tourism to Scotland, but increased flights are having the opposite effect. The UK has a £17 billion tourism deficit because UK residents spend more abroad than overseas visitors do here. The only people we need to come home are those who've bought into the industry's spin and become addicted to holidays abroad - and they won't be swayed by any amount of cliches, kilts and caber-tossing.