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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 March 2007, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
1m campaign to boost car tours
Loch Gruinart
Loch Gruinart nature reserve on Islay is on one of the tours
European tourists are being encouraged to take driving holidays in the west of Scotland as part of a new 1m campaign.

Five itineraries have been designed to take visitors around the castles, gardens, distilleries and historic attractions of Argyll.

VisitScotland said previous similar campaigns have resulted in a return of 23 for every 1 invested.

The scheme was welcomed by Tourism Minister Patricia Ferguson as a boost to Scotland's economy.

The VisitScotland campaign aims to attract visitors from Germany, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy.

It will target tourists taking advantage of low-cost airlines flying into Glasgow Prestwick, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

Hidden treasures

The tour itineraries are between six and 11 days.

A 'Whiskies of the West' tour will take visitors to distilleries in Oban, Tobermory and Bowmore.

Other attractions taken in by the tours include Torosay Castle and Duart Castle, both on Mull, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Scotland's Loch Gruinart nature reserve on Islay.

Ms Ferguson said: "By encouraging our visitors to explore some of our hidden treasures we can help to maximize and spread the benefits of tourism-related business, which contributes to Scotland's growing economy."

Tobermory (Pic: Undiscovered Scotland)
A whisky tour will take visitors to Tobermory on Mull

Linda Battison, chair of Oban and Lorn Tourism Association, welcomed the tours in Argyll.

"The availability of cheap air travel has brought more people to the area from Europe.

"Oban is certainly a good base for car touring and allows people to take in the dramatic scenery."

The Pan-European Touring Campaign encourages European visitors to travel around Scotland.

VisitScotland said international visitors have increased by 50% from 2001 to 2005.

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