Tourism campaign taps into cornerstone of Outer Hebrides culture

Straight from the heart
Tourism campaign taps into cornerstone of Outer Hebrides culture

A new campaign will promote the rich culture, traditions and language of Scottish Gaelic to showcase the Outer Hebrides as a visitor destination with the help of VisitScotland.

Eileanan na Gàidhlig, or Scotland’s Gaelic Islands, a digital campaign led by Outer Hebrides Tourism and developed in partnership with Bòrd na Gàidhlig and CalMac, has received a £25,000 VisitScotland Growth Fund award. This award provides support to national, regional and sectoral tourism groups across Scotland to help them deliver partnership marketing campaigns.

The Outer Hebrides is the heart of Gaelic Scotland, with 50-70% of the local community speaking the language as part of their daily life on the crofts, boats, schools and shops of the islands. The campaign aims to use the language and its traditions to attract visitors from across the UK to come and experience the cultural offering of the islands.

Using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, a series of short videos will be created where BBC Alba’s Calum Maclean interviews islanders in their own language about how Gaelic embodies island life and highlighting where visitors can go to get a taste of the islands’ Gaelic language, culture and traditions. The videos will be filmed in Gaelic and are designed to be accessible for everyone, providing visitors with the opportunity to learn more about the language and some useful phrases.

Influencers will be invited to the islands to learn about the language, its traditions and the experiences available across the region. They will document their time on the islands by producing engaging content in Gaelic which will allow visitors to learn more about the language and the Outer Hebrides in an innovative and accessible way.

The videos and influencer activity will be supported by a digital eBook containing rich visual and audio content to allow visitors to learn more about Gaelic music, Harris Tweed, the medieval Kingdom of the Isles, and crofting. The eBook will provide details on the places they can visit to experience Gaelic traditions and hear the language, including Commun Eachdraidh Nis, or Ness Historical Society, which has a museum and archives that tell the story of the local culture and language.

By acknowledging its importance and increasing awareness and use of Gaelic within the tourism industry, the campaign supports the National Gaelic Language Plan and the Gaelic Tourism Strategy.

Almost 70% of businesses consulted in the Highlands and Islands Enterprise report, Ar Stòras Gàidhlig, in 2014 said that Gaelic is an asset to their business. It also stated the potential economic value of Gaelic as an asset to the Scottish economy could be between £82m and £149m.

Rob McKinnon, Chief Executive of Outer Hebrides Tourism, said: “Our visitors tell us they visit the Outer Hebrides because they are a bit different. And a big part of that difference is Gaelic – the language itself but also its rich heritage of music, story, kinship, sea-faring and rural life, once widespread across Scotland. Our islanders are proud custodians of this language and culture that, each year, draw people back to their homeland from across the globe and reel in curious visitors, intrigued by a different outlook on life.

“This exciting new campaign aims to harness this major draw to bring visitors from across the UK to the Outer Hebrides for an authentic cultural experience.”

Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, said: “Gaelic is woven into the very fabric of life in the Outer Hebrides, playing a key role in the culture and traditions of the islands and those who live here. It’s fantastic to see a campaign recognise this as a unique selling point to showcase the authentic visitor experience available here. I’m delighted we could support this through our Growth Fund.

“At VisitScotland we want to champion collaboration, spearhead digital innovation, promote local areas and events and ensure that tourism is recognised for the positive impact it brings to Scotland.”

Daibhidh Boag, Director of Language Planning and Community Developments, said: “The National Gaelic Language plan has the primary aim that more people use Gaelic, more often and in a wider range of situations and we welcome this initiative as it aims to grow the use of Gaelic in tourism businesses across the Outer Hebrides and at the same time, allows visitors to use their Gaelic or find out more about the language. We are delighted to be a funding partner in this initiative as we believe that tourism can help grow the use of Gaelic and that Gaelic can help grow the tourist industry in the Outer Hebrides and across Scotland.”

For more information about the campaign go to www.visitouterhebrides.co.uk/gaelic

For more information about VisitScotland Growth Fund, go to www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/growth-fund