Highlands & Islands

From Russia with love: Russians sign up for Bond tour

Scene from Skyfall Image copyright Sony/AP
Image caption Daniel Craig as Bond in Skyfall

Russian holiday operators are to be given a guided tour of Scottish places connected to James Bond.

Russia has been the inspiration for famous 007 villains such as Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love and Alan Cumming's Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye.

Many of the stories have also been set during the Cold War and the later collapse of the Soviet Union.

VisitScotland will take the tour operators to sites in the Highlands, Argyll and central Scotland.

The familiarisation trip will form part of the tourism body's Expo, a travel trade show at Glasgow's SECC on 2 and 3 April.

Representatives from holiday operators from the USA, Canada, Japan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, China, Denmark and Germany will also be taken on the guided tour.

One of the Canadian companies already has plans for a Bond-themed tour of Scotland.

Locations on VisitScotland's guided tour include Glencoe House in Glencoe where scenes for the most recent movie, Skyfall, were shot.

Also, the Cromlix House Hotel, near Dunblane, which is owned by tennis player Andy Murray and has rooms named after Edinburgh-born Bond Sean Connery and 007's creator Ian Fleming.

The visitors will be taken to Crinan near Loch Craignish where the boat chase in 1963's From Russia With Love was filmed.

Also on the itinerary is Duart Castle on Mull, a former home of Fitzroy Hew MacLean, a World War Two hero who was a friend of Fleming.

Before the war, Cairo-born Scottish aristocrat MacLean evaded Russian secret service agents to make unauthorised visits to parts of Russia while working as a British diplomat.

During the war, he operated behind enemy lines with the SAS and later with guerrilla fighters in Yugoslavia.

Image copyright PA/Getty Images
Image caption Scots actors Robbie Coltrane and Alan Cumming have played Russian characters in the Bond movies
Image copyright AP
Image caption A road in Glen Etive in the Highlands used in the last Bond film, Skyfall
Image caption Eilean Donan Castle has been used as a fictional MI6 base

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said the operators from Russia and the other countries could bring business to Scotland.

He said: "Familiarisation trips are an essential way of fuelling the imagination of overseas tour operators, giving them ideas of how to package Scotland for their customers.

"The character of James Bond has a long association with Scotland, from Sean Connery's first outing in Dr No, right up to Glencoe's unforgettable appearance in Skyfall.

"Indeed, Ian Fleming was so impressed by Connery's performance as the world's most conspicuous secret agent that he even gave the character a Scottish back story."

After seeing Connery's portrayal of Bond, Fleming gave his character some Scottish heritage.

In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 007 reveals that his father was from Glencoe, while in You Only Live Twice it was written that the agent attended Fettes, a private school in Edinburgh.

In the films, a naval base at Gare Loch in Argyll was used as a location for The Spy Who Loved Me and Eilean Donan Castle was an MI6 station in The World is Not Enough.

Skyfall's Scottish locations included Glen Etive and Glencoe. The A9, Scotland's longest road, also gets a mention during the film.

As well as Connery, Scottish actors to appear in the movies have included Robbie Coltrane, who played an ex-KGB agent-turned-Russian mafia boss, and Cumming who played a Russian bad guy.

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