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Opportunity knocks in the Year of Homecoming
As Scots from all over the world meet for the greatest international clan gathering ever seen, figures published today show a huge increase in visits to Scotland's 'gateway' website in the run up to Homecoming Scotland 2009.
There were 832,565 visits to scotland.org in the year from April 2008 to March 2009 - a 51 per cent increase over the previous 12 months - and an average of over 2,281 visitors a day.
While the numbers show a strong interest in Scotland from traditional diaspora centres like the US, Canada and Australia, there is a marked increase in visits from other countries. For example, visits from India increased by 58 per cent with more hits from New Delhi than any other city outside the UK and US - the city recorded a 77 per cent rise over the previous year's figures.
Opening the Scottish Diaspora Forum at the Scottish Parliament on Saturday, Minister for External Affairs Michael Russell will say that these numbers demonstrate a clear opportunity for all Scots to benefit in the Year of Homecoming.
Michael Russell said:
"The web figures published today demonstrate a clear international interest in Scotland, especially in the run up to the Year of Homecoming and into 2009.
"As the whole country welcomes home Scots from around the world, it unlocks great potential to build long-term relationships with the Scottish diaspora. The Scottish Diaspora Forum will tackle that very question of how to realise that potential for mutual benefit.
"The Scottish Diaspora Forum, and similar events taking place in Inverness and Harris later in the year, will be key to informing our thinking as we develop our strategy of diaspora engagement and consider what role the Scottish Government should play in that engagement.
"Homecoming Scotland 2009 is now providing a timely economic boost for the Scottish tourism industry in what may otherwise have been an even more difficult season."
George Reid, co-Chair of the Scottish Diaspora Forum, said:
"These figures are a timely reminder of the global interest in Scotland and the impetus behind today's Forum. I hope today's proceedings will be both informative and of use to the Scottish Government as it considers how it may add value to the existing work already undertaken by diaspora organisations, businesses and agencies all over the world."
scotland.org is the official online 'gateway' to Scotland. It is a source of information on visiting, working, studying and doing business in Scotland, also directing visitors to partner sites according to their interests.
Other diaspora forums are planned during the Year of Homecoming. The Island Emigrants Conference will be held in Leverburgh, Harris on September 10-12, and Scotland's Global Impact will be held in Inverness on October 22-24.