'Record-breaking' numbers attend Homecoming 2014 events

The Robert the Bruce statue at Bannockburn Image copyright Visit Scotland
Image caption Events commemorating the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn in June 2014 sold out

A record-breaking two million people attended Homecoming events across Scotland last year, according to Visit Scotland.

The tourism agency said many events sold out as the spotlight shone on the country.

Events such as the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn helped bring tourists from across the world.

There were 1,049 events in 2014, more than twice as many as in 2009.

New events included the European Festival of Brass, the MTV European Music Awards, McLaren 2014 and Pipefest.

Existing events were also able to extend their programmes as a result of additional Homecoming funding including Borders Book Festival, Big Burns Supper in Dumfries and Doors Open Days.

'No place like home'

The 2009 Year of Homecoming was mired in controversy after economic impact figures were exaggerated and the flagship Gathering event went bust.

It will be several months before the economic impact figures for Homecoming Scotland 2014 are published to establish if the £5.5m public funding was a worthwhile investment.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A Scottie dog led Team Scotland during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park

Chairman of VisitScotland, Mike Cantlay, said: "There really was no place like home for the people of Scotland during 2014.

"We welcomed the world in their millions and boy did we have fun doing it. We opened our arms and laughed and cheered with our guests.

"We gave them directions, provided sunscreen and sometimes the odd umbrella. We didn't just show them a good time - we joined in."

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: "Homecoming has been a huge success, bringing millions together in a joint celebration of all that is great about our country and showcasing all of our unique attractions and icons to a massive worldwide audience.

"The eyes of the world have been on Scotland like never before in 2014 and working together we will benefit from these experiences as we begin the Year of Food and Drink in 2015 and beyond."

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