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New Gaelic Tourism Strategy for Scotland unveiled

Gaelic Tourism Strategy launch
Rob Dickson, Director of Industry & Destination Development at VisitScotland, Joy Dunlop, singer and Director of Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week) and Amina Shah, National Librarian and Chief Executive, National Library of Scotland, launch the Gaelic Tourism Strategy for Scotland 2024 – 2029 at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. (Credit – VisitScotland / Phil Wilkinson)

An increased interest and value associated with Gaelic language and culture was highlighted in the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2021 where 79% of people thought that Gaelic is either important or very important to Scotland’s cultural heritage.

A new tourism strategy aimed at delivering authentic and memorable visitor experiences by celebrating Gaelic culture, heritage and language has been launched during Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week).

The Gaelic Tourism Strategy for Scotland 2024 – 2029 was officially launched at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh by Rob Dickson, Director of Industry & Destination Development at VisitScotland, Joy Dunlop, singer and Director of Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week) and Amina Shah, National Librarian and Chief Executive, National Library of Scotland. The Sgeul exhibition at the National Library for Scotland is the venue’s first dual-language exhibition, bringing to life the central role of the storytelling tradition to Gaelic culture.

The new plan highlights an increasing interest in the Gaelic language and culture, from both domestic and international visitors, creating opportunities for tourism and events businesses across Scotland.

VisitScotland has developed the strategy alongside representatives from the Scottish tourism industry and partners including the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland. Priorities include increasing visitor awareness of Gaelic, improving access to Gaelic resources, skills and training for the tourism industry, and supporting businesses to recognise opportunities and incorporate Gaelic within their offering.

Gaelic is part of daily life in Scotland and has been for centuries. Many Scottish place names have origins in the Gaelic language, from Dundee (Dùn Dè) to Dumfries (Dùn Phris) and some of the country’s best-known national icons, such as Highland dress, ceilidhs and whisky have their origins in Gaelic culture. Gaelic continues to play an important role in Scotland’s vibrant music and cultural scenes and featured in the hugely popular TV series Outlander.

Gaelic culture and language are of growing interest to visitors. From 2018 to 2021 there was a 72% increase in the number of VisitScotland.com users visiting Gaelic elated content. To date, VisitScotland’s Scottish Gaelic Explained video has been viewed more than 710k times on YouTube.

The new plan highlights some of the innovative ways that businesses and organisations in the tourism, culture and heritage sectors are using Gaelic to connect with visitors and local communities.

For example, in the Highlands, the Cairngorms National Park Authority has created a local Shinty Trail (Slighe na Camanachd) which allows visitors to explore the history of the sport and its importance to the Gaelic language.

Glasgow hosts the largest Gaelic community outside the Western Isles and the creation of the Glaschu.net website showcases the Gaelic heritage of the different neighbourhoods in Glasgow as well as different aspects of Gaelic culture in the city and how to experience them.

Gaelic-Tourism-Strategy-launch

Ulrike Hogg, Curator, National Library of Scotland and Joy Dunlop, singer and Director of Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week) launch the Gaelic Tourism Strategy for Scotland 2024 – 2029 at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. (Credit – VisitScotland / Phil Wilkinson).

This week marks the third annual Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week), which runs until 25 February 2024 with a week-long programme of more than 100 events and activities.

Cabinet Secretary for Education & Skills Jenny Gilruth said: “Gaelic is a central part of Scotland’s heritage, and we are determined to ensure it is integral to our future. That is why it is so important that we promote it as part of our current cultural life both at home and to other countries. 

“We know there is a growing appetite among domestic and international visitors to discover more about the role Gaelic plays in our national story and this strategy will help our tourism sector to deliver on that.”

Rob Dickson, VisitScotland Director of Industry & Destination Development, saidWe recognise the distinct role that the Gaelic language plays in Scotland’s heritage, identity and culture. It provides an extra layer to the authentic experience that so many of our visitors desire. This new strategy will support collective action for partners to work together to strengthen the visibility of Gaelic and increase the opportunities for Gaelic tourism.”

Joy Dunlop, singer and Director of Seachdain na Gàidhlig, said:Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week) was created to raise the profile of Gaelic through community initiatives, projects and events; providing the opportunity for both Gaelic speakers and those without the language to take part in a way that suits them; here in Scotland and further afield. This new strategy will support this aim on multiple levels, creating a sense of community, unity and pride among speakers, learners and enthusiasts alike. This support is needed to ensure that the language continues to grow and develop. Cleachd i, no caill i – use it, or lose it!”

Amina Shah, National Librarian and Chief Executive, National Library of Scotland, said: “We welcome this bold new strategy for Gaelic Tourism. Our first dual-language exhibition, Sgeul, has proved hugely popular and has been especially valued by Gaelic speakers. International visitors are captivated by Gaelic culture and its rich storytelling tradition.     

“We hold the largest collection of Scottish Gaelic manuscripts in the world, and we are committed to playing a key role in celebrating Gaelic language, culture and heritage. Thanks to generous funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, we recently appointed a Gaelic Storymaker in Residence, Kirsty MacDonald, and we will soon publish our next Gaelic Language Plan.”

Ealasaid MacDonald, Ceannard, Bòrd na Gàidhlig said: “Gaelic is a key driver for many visitors to Scotland, whether that is exploring their heritage or looking for a country which offers a vibrant cultural experience with language at its heart. This strategy will allow all aspects of tourism to benefit from Gaelic, and increasing access and visibility will showcase the Gaelic language to locals and visitors. Importantly it also highlights how Gaelic is an important social, cultural and economic asset, which benefits communities across Scotland, and beyond.”

Karen Dick, Head of Place, Partnerships & Communities at Creative Scotland, said:“We welcome the publication of the new Gaelic Tourism Strategy, recognising the roles which Gaelic language, culture and heritage play in supporting sustainable tourism and vibrant communities. Gaelic language is an intrinsic part of Scotland’s culture and creativity, influencing and shaping our creative nation. We look forward to working alongside partners to develop opportunities for Gaelic language, culture, and creativity to thrive.”

Catriona Morrison, Manaidsear Poileasaidh Gàidhlig (Gaelic Language Policy Manager) at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), said“Gaelic has played a vital part in defining and shaping Scotland’s unique history and heritage and is part of the daily lives of individuals and communities across Scotland today. This strategy, and our own refreshed Gaelic Language Plan at HES, aim to highlight how Gaelic language and culture can enrich experiences for domestic and international visitors alike. We look forward to working in partnership in the delivery of this strategy, and to continue to promote and celebrate Gaelic across our sites and activities.”

Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website | + Posts

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.

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