STP Chief Officer Phil Prentice looks at reasons to be cheerful for Scotland's towns in the context of heritage and tourism, and the need to remind the world of the 'spirit of Scotland' in 2017.

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Recent visitor surveys show that the weaker pound post Brexit has led to a huge boom in tourism. Estimates vary between 25% and 80% growth over the 2016 season. Scotland is ranked second (behind London) as the destination of choice for international visitors visiting the UK.

And in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, Visit Scotland also predict a bumper season – there is measurable growth across Golf Tourism and the Scottish Open, the Cruise Market, Staycations and Holiday Parks, Outlander fans, The Whisky Experience, the North Coast 500 and Heritage Holidays.

It’s hard to imagine a nation that can match Scotland in terms of Heritage. Scots invented much of the modern world and the heritage of Scotland’s Towns is a storybook of our journey as a nation; it's about folklore and myth, wars and kings, poets and parliaments, our churches, landmarks, languages, traditions and industry.

And for Scotland, a nation of towns, it is critical that we embrace our heritage; not only that we acknowledge it, but to measure it's worth and value it, to curate, embrace, preserve, protect and promote it. In 2014 the lion rampant roared. From the homecoming of the clans and Bannockburn reenactment, the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, the Referendum and then Hogmany – Scotland reminded the world that we have a strength and depth in character and culture that is unsurpassed.

What would the Dundee of today look like had it not been for jute, jam or journalism or Paisley without its pattern and woven print. Greenock had sugar and ships, Stirling and Perth were once the seats of Kings. Every city, town, island and village across the country a story to tell. Kirkcudbright for Art, West Kilbride for Craft, Wigtown for books, Arbroath for smokies, Islay for whisley.

This deep and rich tapestry of invention and cultural heritage is now woven into a network which forms the lifeblood of our country.

In a world seeking authenticity, it is what we do with our towns heritage moving forward that will ultimately determine a large part of our social, cultural and economic destiny.

So we need to remind the world in 2017 about the Spirit of Scotland.

The one fly in the ointment, the weather conditions are perfect for a bumper harvest of the dreaded Midge in 2017…so get a supply of Skin So Soft!

Source: Chief Officer Blog

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