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South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has launched a major report into the economic impact of Robert Burns which has revealed the Bard is worth over £20m a year to the local economy of Dumfries and Galloway.


The MSP attended the meeting along with representatives of Ellisland Museum which was highlighted in the report as a destination which could generate many more visitors with the right investment.

The report, carried out by Professor Murray Pittock of Glasgow University’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies and funded by the Scottish Government, also found that the national bard is worth over £200 million a year to the wider Scottish economy, with his brand being worth nearly £140 million annually.


The launch took place at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway as part of the annual conference of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies.


Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,


“The findings of this report are very exciting and highlight how much more can be done to going forwards, not just to maximise the benefits of the Burns brand to the food and drink, retail and tourism industries but also in terms of connectivity and education.


“The study also gives us important insights into the value of cultural tourism to the Dumfries & Galloway; for example, tourists who visit for heritage and cultural reasons tend to stay longer and spend more money. We can use this knowledge to feed into our tourism strategies and help enhance Scotland’s standing as a global cultural destination. The report suggests ways we could further increase the economic benefit to Dumfries and Galloway by focussing on Burns in our tourism approach, linking ticket sales and marketing and improving connectivity.


“The report also makes some interesting practical suggestions for things we can do right away. For example it suggests changing the name of Prestwick Airport to The Robert Burns International Airport. I think this is a great idea and I fully support it. It suggests Scotland should look to Austria where Mozart related tourism and sales of everything from chocolate to beer generate billions, not millions for the economy.”


“I’ve lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament welcoming this report which I hope will lead to a debate in Parliament in time for the Bard’s anniversary on the 25th January.”


The full report can be found at this link


Image attached : Joan McAlpine MSP pictured with Sue Hughes, Museum Manager at Robert Burns’ Ellisland Museum and Farm and Professor Gerry Carruthers, Trustee of The Ellisland Trust


Ms McAlpine’s motion is as follows:


Motion S5M-20403: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/01/2020

Robert Burns in the Scottish Economy

That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the findings of the year-long research study by University of Glasgow, Robert Burns in the Scottish Economy, which has been led by Professor Murray Pittock of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies; notes that it found that Burns generates over £200 million a year for the economy and that his brand is worth nearly £140 million; believes that this news is timely, coming just ahead of the annual birthday celebrations for the Bard on 25 January 2020, when people recognise what is considered to be his genius as a poet, his passion for Scots language and culture and his commitment to humanitarian values; understands that the research, which was funded by the Scottish Government’s Economic Development Directorate, is the most comprehensive such analysis to date and was commissioned after a parliamentary debate in January 2018 that discussed the economic potential of Burns; notes that the economic sectors reported to benefit from Burns include food and drink, retail, hospitality and tourism, while his international brand helps develop business and trade relationships, but acknowledges that the study argues that much more can be done and notes its recommendations, which include the need for further plans to promote Burns at home and abroad, recognition of the Robert Burns World Federation, supporting teaching about the Bard in schools, in light of the view that current pupils will be the next generation to sell him to the world, improving signage and infrastructure to enhance access to Burns’ sites across the South Scotland region, profiling his core appeal to visitors to Dumfries and Galloway and updating the approach for Ayrshire, encouraging regional economic partnerships, for the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency to work together with local government to improve data on Burns-motivated tourism, for greater alignment between food and drink and cultural tourism, improving the connectivity of Burns-related sites, using his potential to reinforce community wealth building, developing initiatives such as joint marketing and ticketing, embedding the story of Burns in the 2020 Year of Scotland’s Coasts and Waters and the UNESCO biosphere and learning from Austria’s investment in Mozart-related cultural tourism; believes that there is no contradiction in valuing Burns as a great poet and using his legacy to support the economy, and considers that Burns, who it believes knew about the hardship of poverty, would welcome what it sees as such respectful initiatives to add to the prosperity of the people and places that he loved.



The original motion can be found at this link: