Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Homecoming Scotland boosts economy by 'at least 19m'

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One of Homecoming's aims was to target people overseas with Scottish links'

The Homecoming Scotland celebrations have boosted the economy by at least £19.4m, organisers have said.

A report on the celebrations said they were also on track to beat the target of raising £44m.

Organisers admitted visitor numbers from the US dropped 20% in the homecoming year, but said this was better than the rest of the UK.

The celebrations were organised to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns' birth.

The latest figures came in an early analysis of the programme, which looked at the revenue generated by 25 of the 112 events.

Event problems

One of Homecoming's main aims has been to engage with people living abroad who have Scottish links.

The celebrations will end this weekend with concerts around the country and free entry to 47 historic buildings.

Clan members
A clan gathering was one of the highlights of Homecoming Scotland

But there have been problems - one of Homecoming Scotland's flagship events, the Clan Gathering in Edinburgh, lost its organisers money and had to be bailed out by the city council and the government.

A finale concert at the SECC in Glasgow has also been scaled down.

Philip Riddle, chief executive of tourism agency VisitScotland, recognised the problems, but told BBC Scotland that Homecoming had been a great success overall.

"The target of £44m, which is what was set for the £5.5m investment, is looking like it will be easily achieved," he said.

He said The Gathering, a weekend of celebration in Edinburgh's Holyrood Park attended by thousands of international visitors, was a "fantastically successful event" even though it lost £600,000 for its private backers.

"It was a risk but you have to admire the ambition," said Mr Riddle.

He added: "For every one of the 47,000 people who went, it was tremendous. For the public sector investment in it - which was £480,000 - we got a return of more than £10m."



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SEE ALSO
Labour attacks homecoming advert
14 Apr 09 |  Scotland
Banknote designs mark Homecoming
14 Jan 09 |  Scotland
Burns events kick off Homecoming
24 Jan 09 |  Scotland
Riding the Homecoming rollercoaster
23 Jan 09 |  Scotland

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