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As people around the world celebrate Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week), VisitScotland is highlighting the importance of the national language to Scotland’s tourism and events industry and how businesses can make the most of increasing visitor interest in all things Gaelic.
In the past year, the national tourism organisation has seen a significant increase in interest in Gaelic on its consumer website VisitScotland.com with the number of users visiting Gaelic-related content rising by 151 per cent in 2022 compared to 2021, plus over 660k views of its Scottish Gaelic Explained video on YouTube.
The increasing popularity of the language among visitors creates new opportunities for tourism and events businesses across Scotland to incorporate Gaelic, helping create authentic and immersive experiences visitors crave.
To support businesses and encourage those already embracing Gaelic to share their story, VisitScotland has created a Gaelic toolkit with support from national Gaelic development body Bòrd na Gàidhlig. It features resources, real life business examples and practical suggestions for incorporating the language from teaching staff basic phrases to translating local place names to reveal their Gaelic meanings and using Gaelic in marketing materials.
Over 340 businesses listed on VisitScotland.com now boast Gaelic as a selling point to visitors from traditional speaking areas in Stornoway and Inverness to Glasgow and Newton Stewart further afield.
As well as providing Gaelic inspiration and advice to businesses, VisitScotland is a supporter of key events including Celtic Connections and the Royal National Mòd, the annual international festival of Scottish Gaelic culture, through EventScotland.
The activity is part of the national tourism organisation’s drive to make Scotland a leading destination for responsible tourism, in line with industry and government strategies. A destination that protects and preserves its unique natural and cultural assets in order to make the country a better place to live and visit.Lyn Donnelly, VisitScotland Senior Responsible Tourism Manager, said:“The increasing popularity of Gaelic presents an exciting opportunity for the tourism and events businesses across Scotland to incorporate Gaelic in their offering, creating authentic and immersive experiences we know visitors are looking for and strengthens our appeal as a destination.”Joy Dunlop, Director of Seachdain na Gàidhlig, said:“This is none more obvious than in the tourism and events sector, with Gaelic being an inspiration for people visiting our beautiful country. Tourism drives the Scottish economy and Gaelic is at the heart of this for many.“The second ever Seachdain na Gàidhlig is looking bigger and better than we’d imagined, with over 100 events taking place across the globe; most of which wouldn’t have been possible without the extra funding allocated to us by Bòrd na Gàidhlig. Do check outGaelic business case studiesAn Taigh Ceilidh – Stornoway
An Taigh Cèilidh is a new Gaelic community and culture centre in popular visitor spot, Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, where visitors get a drinks discount if they try ordering in Gaelic. Magaidh Nic a’ Ghobhainn and Teàrlach Wilson opened the venture after finding that there was a demand for a dedicated Gaelic language and culture space in the Gaelic heartland.
For the An Taigh Cèilidh team, Gaelic is proving to be a draw for visitors and a boost to their holiday experience.Teàrlach said:
The project has had a hugely positive reaction from locals and visitors alike.Teàrlach said“We offer a 10 per cent on hot drinks if you order in Gaelic. We have the phrases displayed at the till to help customers, and staff are trained to help customers. People don’t have to be fluent, or even perfect – just willing to try! And we’ve found that visitors have a lot of fun with it and often end up signing up to Duolingo after visiting us.”Simpsons Garden Centre, Inverness
They followed this up with new Gaelic signage and now the team at Simpsons are keen to do more to expose locals and visitors to the language during trips to the Highland city.Siobhan MacBean, Simpsons Marketing & Communications Manager, said:“We’re quite unique in that we can incorporate Gaelic relating to our industry and it’s a great opportunity for our regular customers and visitors from further afield to learn something new.“Visitors to our country can really learn from Gaelic phrases, and it’s something they can take home with them to continue learning long after they have visited our beautiful country.”
Plans for the future include adding new videos to their library, aiming to introduce new and fun Gaelic signs to toilet cubicles as well as more dual signage across the centre and restaurant.Experience Lewis
Experience Lewis is a tour company with Gaelic woven into its itineraries and beyond.
It looks to preserve the rich culture on the Isle of Lewis, while also allowing passionate locals to showcase their hobbies and talents.
The team offer Gaelic taster lessons to visitors where they can learn key conversational phrases in the traditional laid back island manner: over a hot drink and a biscuit.Managing Director Eilidh Johnstone said:“This type of focus on a small area of the language can help visitors engage with the native tongue and leave with a sense of having participated in a meaningful way. There is no better way to try and connect with locals in any country than to attempt to speak to them in a way they might understand.“With our Gàidhlig Song History experience you really get a chance to properly feel the history of the kind of people and experiences throughout the islands’ history, and I think there is real beauty in the sound of emotion in Gàidhlig songs.”
Eilidh explained that she feels Gaelic has an important place in Scotland’s tourism and events industry.She added:
VisitScotland highlights opportunities for Scotland’s tourism and events industry