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EDITIONS
 Saturday, 25 January, 2003, 11:14 GMT
Homecoming call to celebrate Burns
Robert Burns
Robert Burns was born in Ayrshire in 1759
Scotland should host a year-long event to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns' birth, it has been suggested.

Jim Wallace, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, wants 2009 to be declared a Homecoming Year to mark the occasion.

He argued that such an event would encourage visitors from all over the world to come to Scotland to explore their roots.

Jim Wallace
2009 would be the ideal time to celebrate our nation

Jim Wallace
His comments came as a BBC documentary estimated that Scotland's national bard brings more than 157m into the country each year.

Lesley Campbell, an economist with the World Bank, said tourism was the biggest single source of income.

The anniversary of the poet's birth is celebrated on Burns Night, which is held on 25 January.

Mr Wallace said Burns was "one of our country's most recognised figures worldwide and is one of Scotland's national heroes".

Scotland's deputy first minister was attending two Burns suppers in his constituency this weekend.

Shared interest

He said Burns Night was an appropriate time to look ahead to the 250th anniversary of Burns' birth in Alloway, Ayrshire.

He said: "2009 would be the ideal time to celebrate our nation by having a Scottish Homecoming Year that would encourage people all over the world with Scottish roots to come to Scotland to see the heritage shared by our ancestors and theirs."

The Orkney MSP said this would provide a boost for the economy.

"It would also be an important way in which to promote our historic, cultural, environmental and sporting heritage and allow overseas visitors to have a taste of modern Scotland with all the new opportunities that are now available," he added.

See also:

24 Jan 03 | Scotland
17 Jan 03 | Scotland
22 Jul 01 | Scotland
13 Jan 01 | Scotland
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