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24th May 2010

Innovative Microsoft archive launched as first Homecoming exceeds all expectations

Scotland will build on the outstanding success of the Year of Homecoming by staging a second formal celebration in 2014, First Minister Alex Salmond said today.

Homecoming 2014 will take place in the year that Scotland hosts the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup and marks the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

The First Minister made the announcement on the same day as an independent evaluation revealed the enormous benefits of the first year of Homecoming.

Research by leading economic and social development consultancy EKOS shows that Homecoming Scotland 2009:

* generated 53.7 million in additional tourism revenue for Scotland, exceeding the 44 million target by 22 percent
* attracted 95,000 additional visitors to Scotland
* generated 154 million of positive global media coverage

The First Minister also launched a new digital resource that will showcase Homecoming 2009 to audiences at home and abroad.

The Homecoming Scotland Digital Archives and Exhibition Project, designed by Queen Margaret University, uses new Microsoft technology to allow users to learn more about the diverse and exciting events of Homecoming 2009 and increase interest in Homecoming 2014.

An archivist will collate Homecoming documents, brochures, articles and video clips which will be digitised using Microsoft's Zenity product. The archives will be available online from January next year and a public exhibition will begin a tour of Scotland in the summer.

Tourism Minister Jim Mather will build on this announcement tomorrow when he marks the start of a year-long focus on Scotland's food and drink - and launches a programme of activity around some of Scotland's greatest assets leading up to 2014.

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

"In 2014 the eyes of the world will be on Scotland as the Commonwealth Games comes to Glasgow and the Gleneagles hosts the Ryder Cup and Scots at home and abroad mark the anniversary of Bannockburn.

"In this year of celebration, repeating the remarkable success and benefits of Homecoming 2009 is an excellent opportunity to attract tourism and investment and showcase the very best of Scotland.

"The independent evaluation published today proves the unprecedented effect of the first Homecoming, attracting almost 100,000 people, generating 53.7 million extra income and contributing to visitor numbers rising by three percent despite the downturn and a four percent drop in global tourism.

"The Homecoming archive, developed by Queen Margaret University using new Microsoft technology, underlines our reputation for innovation and has the potential to become a model for the future. This ground breaking new product will ensure that the success of the celebration of Scotland and its many contributions to the world will be available for everyone to enjoy for generations to come.

"2014 has been designated as the next formal Homecoming year, but as this year's focus on food and drink indicates, the themes of Homecoming will be carried forward every year. This is crucial as we build on the success of 2009 and towards 2014."

Dr Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: "In world tourism terms, Homecoming has been seen as a unique marketing tool by competing tourist destinations who would love the Diaspora that Scotland enjoys. The success of last year's Homecoming sparked huge interest in people all over the world, not only those with ancestral links to Scotland, but those who simply love this country.

"Working with businesses within the industry, VisitScotland will once again seize the tremendous opportunity that Homecoming represents. Whichever country visitors are travelling from in order to enjoy the wide-ranging celebrations in 2014, they can be guaranteed the warmest possible welcome to these shores and I have no doubt they will leave with memories they will treasure forever."

Dr Petra Wend, Principal and Vice Patron of Queen Margaret University said:"Development of the Homecoming Archive presents a tremendously exciting opportunity for Queen Margaret University to collect, catalogue, and preserve materials associated with the Scottish Homecoming 2009 for the benefit of a very broad range of people, both in Scotland and across the world.

"We know that the archive will be of great use to all those involved in promoting tourism and economic development in Scotland, those considering tourism initiatives across the world, and scholars of today and future generations. We look forward to sharing the archives with a wide audience through an information-rich website and a travelling exhibition across Scotland."

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer of EventScotland said: "Scotland's events industry came out in force to support Homecoming 2009. Many events enjoyed their best ever year, with established events featuring Homecoming inspired activity selling out or breaking previous box office bests. This includes Scotland's international poetry festival StAnza, The Royal Highland Show and Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Whilst events created specifically for the year, like Burns Light in Dumfries, captured the imagination of visitors and local people alike."

Homecoming Scotland 2009 aimed to deliver an 8:1 return on the core investment of 5.5 million by generating 44 million of additional tourism revenue for Scotland.

Tourism Minister Jim Mather will launch the start of a year-long focus on Scotland's food and drink at Edinburgh Castle at 1pm on Tuesday 25th May 2010