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Craig Anderson reports
"Hotels and castles are reporting record bookings from couples keen to follow in Madonna's footsteps"
 real 56k

Monday, 22 January, 2001, 19:38 GMT
Madonna ignites tourism campaign
Skibo Castle
The wedding took place at Skibo Castle
Madonna's Highland fling has prompted tourist chiefs to spend 50,000 promoting Scotland as a centre for weddings and romantic breaks.

Her marriage to film director Guy Ritchie sparked media interest in the Sutherland burgh of Dornoch from across the world.

It also resulted in a flood of wedding bookings in the Highlands.

Now the Scottish Tourist Board is mounting the marketing drive as a direct result of that extra interest.

We want to widen the appeal, and therefore targeting those different audiences is bound to have a big impact

Scottish Tourist Board spokeswoman
The money will be spent on efforts to convert the huge interest into further business for Scotland.

The board's Casia Zajac said: "We are also going to be targeting hen nights, stag nights, honeymoons and the pink market, which would mean that single sex couples will get welcomed.

"The whole Madonna thing has been fantastic for us, but we are marketeers. We want to widen the appeal, and therefore targeting those different audiences is bound to have a big impact."

It has already been estimated that the star-studded wedding ceremony at Skibo Castle generated 2.5m for the Sutherland economy.

Romantic catles

The extent of the area's economic windfall was revealed by the Scottish Parliament's Minister for the Highlands, Alasdair Morrison.

He told MSPs that the event brought in an estimated 2.5m, including 200,000 worth of accommodation bookings.

Inquiries about weddings at one of Scotland's most romantic castles have also rocketed since Dornoch was thrust into the media spotlight last month.

In one week alone, 450 people asked for wedding form applications at Eilean Donan Castle on Loch Duich, near Kyle of Lochalsh on the west coast of Scotland.

Ten couples have already booked up to tie the knot there.

Madonna, Guy and Rocco outside Dornoch Cathedral
The couple briefly appeared in public at baby Rocco's christening
Dornoch's tourist office was deluged with enquiries after news of the wedding first emerged.

The Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board also launched a special website to capitalise on the interest generated by the Madonna wedding.

It gives couples details of castles, hotels and beauty spots, as well as legal and religious requirements.

Hundreds of journalists, photographers and camera crews also descended on the town attempting to get a glimpse of the celebrity couple - and their star-studded guest list.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Donatella Versace, Stella McCartney, Sting and Rupert Everett were among those in attendance.

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23 Dec 00 | Scotland
Madonna weds her Guy
11 Dec 00 | Scotland
Newly webbed site for Madonna fans
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