Monday, 5 January 2009

welcome back to Scotland

Homecoming Scotland 2009 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s national poet and cultural icon Robert Burns, whose message of friendship epitomised through the song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ lives on.
Burns is the inspiration behind our year long celebration of some of Scotland’s great contributions to the world:
  • Golf
  • Whisky
  • Great Scottish Minds and Innovation
  • Robert Burns
  • and our rich culture and heritage.
For the millions around the world with Scots ancestry and everyone with a passion for our great nation, 2009 will be an exceptional year to visit Scotland.
As part of its Homecoming Scotland marketing activity, VisitScotland has co-ordinated the most comprehensive connection with Scotland’s diaspora to date. This year’s Burns Night campaign has the potential to reach over 200,000 ex-pat Scots and people with Scottish ancestry around the world, who will all receive a message from First Minister Alex Salmond, encouraging them to come to Scotland in 2009.
As well as reaching the officials of around 1,600 Scottish organisations world wide, VisitScotland and EventScotland have enlisted the help of the International Burns Federation, Global Friends of Scotland and Global Scots to encourage their members to start planning their travel to Scotland in 2009.
VisitScotland’s marketing campaign for Homecoming Scotland 2009 will, over the next 18 months, reach out to both the diaspora and the best tourism prospects in the UK and overseas, encouraging them to join Scotland’s year long celebration.
Homecoming Scotland 2009 is a Scottish Government initiative delivered by EventScotland, the national events agency, in partnership with VisitScotland.
The programme of Homecoming events will complement the vast range of world-class attractions already offered in Scotland. From the world’s biggest ever Clan Gathering in Edinburgh to Celtic Connections in Glasgow and from the Open Championship at Turnberry to the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, there will be something special for everyone.

Thistle award winning tours for homecomimg 2009

The celebration of Burns’ 250th anniversary during Homecoming Year 2009 coincides with Rabbie’s Trail Burners launching its most exciting programme of tours ever. Your clients can discover their family history with a range of Clan tours departing Edinburgh during 2009 - Macdonalds, Campbells, Robertsons, MacGregors, McLeods and Camerons are amongst those scheduled to run, although we can organise private group tours for any clan.
We are also offering specialist tours for Whisky enthusiasts, allowing groups to experience the fantastic produce of Islay, home to 8 of Scotland’s finest malt whisky distilleries. For the whisky connoisseur these tours are ideal as there is no need for clients to drive themselves anywhere!
Rabbie’s mini-coaches are purpose built to show your clients the secrets of Scotland by getting off the beaten track and onto the back-roads where only smaller tours can go. Comfort is paramount as we travel in eco-friendly, low emission, modern Mercedes mini-coaches, with big panoramic windows (3 out of 4 seats are window seats so you can really enjoy the views), full sized reclining seats (with seatbelts) and more legroom than your average coach. We can also arrange coaches for larger groups wishing to explore the beauty of Scotland.
Rabbie’s is extremely proud to have won the highly sought after 2008 Thistle Award for People Development and has won many other awards over the years for its outstanding commitment to going the extra mile for its customers and providing exceptional small group experiences.
To find out more please telephone +44 (0)131 226 3133. or visit

one of the best for homecoming

As the number one wholesale tour operator into Scotland, JAC Travel Scotland is a one-stop shop delivering a wide range of group travel services. With the buying power to offer the most competitive rates linked with a creative team of experts, JAC Travel Scotland guarantees to deliver complete customer satisfaction.
What better time to visit Scotland than 2009 to join in the year long celebrations of Homecoming Scotland which marks the 250th anniversary of the great poet Robert Burns’ birth, plus some of Scotland’s great contributions to the world: golf, whisky, the Enlightenment and innovation, culture and heritage.
JAC Travel Scotland is offering an exciting range of event packages including the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo, celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2009; The Open Golf Championship, returning to the Ailsa Course at the Westin Turnberry resort, and The Braemar Gathering, one of the most famous Highland games. Packages include accommodation at 3 and 4 star hotels plus event tickets and transfers. We are also offering 3 and 4 night packages to ‘Piping Live’, featuring the World Pipe Band Championships and ‘Burns an’ a’ that’, a festival celebrating the life and works of the Robert Burns.
For those interested in Scottish ancestry, follow in the footsteps of some of Scotland’s great clans and rub shoulders with real-life clan chiefs at the world’s biggest ever Clan Gathering in Edinburgh. Whatever you choose, JAC Travel Scotland promises to bring you the very best throughout this year of Homecoming.
To discuss your requirements please contact: JAC Travel Scotland, telephone +44 131 556 4500 or
email or visit or

so near to Edinburgh

Edinburgh Conference Centre, centrally located at Heriot Watt University, the Centre welcomes visitors throughout the year, offering good-value accommodation - 165 bedrooms are available during the academic terms, all with en-suite facilities, telephone, clock radio and coffee/tea-making facilities, with a minimum, VisitScotland 2-star campus classification.
Completed in summer 08 an improvement plan, has seen the refurbishment of 18 double en-suite bedrooms. Completely refitted, everything in the bedrooms has been replaced from the flooring to soft furnishings and the lighting.
An additional 795 modern, en suite guest rooms are available in vacation periods, from June to early September - these are serviced daily. Internet access is available in all guest bedrooms across the university campus.
Set in a peaceful, parkland location, the Edinburgh Conference Centre is just six miles west of Edinburgh and its many city-centre attractions; 10 minutes’ drive from Edinburgh Airport; central to Scotland’s motorway network; and four hours by train from London. One major benefit for visitors is the free car parking facilities on site.
A multitude of excellent onsite facilities are on offer from 3 catering outlets and café bar to bank; hairdressers; medical centre; crèche; laundry; general store; sports and exercise centre; and beautiful, tranquil gardens in which to relax.
For 2009, applicable 25 June to 04 September, Bed and Breakfast group rates – based on 10 or more rooms - are: single room £34.00 per night and double room £58.00 including full Scottish Breakfast and VAT.
For group information telephone: 0131 451 3115
or email:

2 great hotels 1 stunning location

Two Great stunning setting!
The Inn at Inverbeg and Lodge on Loch Lomond Hotel are stunningly located venues with views across Scotland’s most famous Loch towards Ben Lomond.
The Inn at Inverbeg has undergone a multi-million pound redesign so offering groups and travel trade a fantastic new venue to consider when planning trips in the Loch Lomond area. The Inn is set back on the A82 and the Hotel is also just off this main route to Crianlarich. Both are close to the conservation village of Luss so ideal as overnight stays for groups travelling the West Coast of Scotland or as meal stops en-route.
Choose from the contemporary rooms within the main Inn or the beautifully located beach house situated directly on the shores of the Loch. With a history of over 200 years, the Inn retains all the charm of an auld Scottish Inn but with facilities attractive to the modern-day traveller. Ideal for group parties is Mr.C’s Fish and Whisky Bar/Restaurant within the Inn, offering traditional fish and chips, fresh seafood and Buccleuch steaks and burgers. A member of the Scottish Whisky Embassy the Inn stocks over 200 whiskies and some of the best real ale you can find. Excellent value for quality food and surroundings, plus relax to Scottish Folk music on weekends, April through to October.
The Lodge on Loch Lomond Hotel offers guests first class accommodation and a great 2 AA rosette restaurant. It provides excellent accommodation and meals for group bookings.
For further details call 01436 860 201
or email or visit or

a new welcome

A new welcome for a national landmark. New visitor facilities at world-famous monument, set for spring 2009 opening
The visitor experience at one of Stirling’s most distinctive landmarks - The National Wallace Monument - will be enhanced next year following the redevelopment of the area at the base of The Abbey Craig, the main point of arrival for visitors coming to see the famous tower.
The new development has been designed to significantly upgrade visitor facilities at The Monument, and involves the construction of a striking new reception building, with a self-service restaurant and terrace providing panoramic views of The Abbey Craig and The Monument itself, and a re-configuration of the Visitor Pavilion, which houses a ticket sales desk and retail area. The layout at the Car Park area is also being improved to ensure that adequate space is provided for all visitors.
Ken Thomson of Stirling District Tourism stressed the benefits of the project for groups arriving at The National Wallace Monument. “The Monument is a major visitor attraction - not only for Stirling but for all of Scotland, and the first impression that visitors gain on arrival is really important. This project will ensure that the entire experience for visitors lives up to their expectations, and gets their visit off to the best possible start”, he said.
The project is scheduled to be completed early next year, in readiness for the start of the main 2009 visitor season.
For further information Tel 01786 472140
or email:
or visit

full steam ahead

Full steam ahead for the Museum Of Scottish Industrial Life. Summerlee, now open to groups following a two year refurbishment.
After two years and an investment of £10 million, Summerlee - the Museum of Scottish Industrial Life - in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, reopened its gates to the public this autumn. Tour groups can once again experience life as it was during Scotland’s industrial revolution and into the early part of the 20th Century, especially as admission remains free.
Summerlee’s old favourites, such as the tram rides (small fee charged), trips down the mine, the miners’ cottages and the playpark have been improved and upgraded. However, it is the main exhibition hall that the main changes have taken place, with a whole new experience being created within.
On entering the hall the first thing visitors will see is the sheer scale of the new displays. Working machinery have always been an attraction at Summerlee – nicknamed ‘Scotland’s noisiest museum’. Now there is an enlarged display including the huge winding wheel from the former Cardowan Colliery at Stepps, one of the last railway engines to made in Airdrie and and even a ‘vitual reality’ blast furnace.
Summerlee has a large coach park just adjacent to the main entrance, plus all the facilities associated with a VisitScotland four-star graded attraction. These include a brand new café and shop. The size of Summerlee means tour groups can be accommodated without difficulty, but if planning a visit on local holiday Mondays, it is advisable to advise the office in advance on:
(01236) 638460 or e-mail

hard rock goes local

The Hard Rock Cafe in Edinburgh – Scotland’s only Hard Rock Cafe - is reaching out to tour and travel groups looking for a more ‘Scottish’ experience by adding locally sourced regional dishes including Cullen Skink, Venison in a Whisky Glaze, Hot Smoked Salmon Salad and Crannachan to the menu.
A special group menu has been created to include these dishes and has already proved extremely popular with tour and travel companies now including a visit to the Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh in their itineraries for 2009. The launch of the new Scottish dishes also coincides with Homecoming 2009, a year long celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.
The regular Group menus which include favourites such as the Legendary Burger, New York Strip Steak and Honey Citrus Salad are also now available for 2009 with prices remaining the same as 2008.
To request a menu or for further details please contact Lindsay McCarroll on 0131 260 3000
or email
or visit

smart city hostels group heaven

Edinburgh’s Smart City Hostels is Scotland’s top 5 star hostel, defying common perceptions of hostels accommodating groups.
63% of Smart City Hostels’ most recent bookings have come from groups visiting Edinburgh. They came for culture, education, sporting events or to celebrate anniversaries, pre wedding freedom or just to sample the city’s marvelous heritage and café and club culture.
Demand from travel trade organisers has been so high and group business so important for this 5 star city centre hostel that a dedicated website has been established for agents and tour operators to click, confirm and book beds all year round. provides personalised account management with a login and password.
Smart City Hostels is the Scottish forerunner of hostel accommodation for the discerning young groups market: Ruth Kerr, General Manager said:
“This is an increasingly sophisticated customer, looking for comfort, easy access to city based facilities, good food and drink on site, security, and ensuite facilities, all competitively priced. That’s what they want, that’s what we give them.”
Purpose designed, the hostel offers group leaders extra space for meetings and briefings and additional privacy in their own ensuite private rooms.
Call Lesley on 0131 524 1989/ 0870 892 3000
or e-mail:
or visit

glasgow scotland with style

Glasgow – renowned for its Victorian buildings and abundance of art galleries and museums, which include the Burrell Collection and the modern Science Centre. It is a cultural centre, having been European City of Culture in 1990, and is home to Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Glasgow’s position on the River Clyde is close to some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland, including Loch Lomond, the Trossachs and the Ayrshire coast. It is the largest retail centre in the UK outside London and is packed with stylish shops, restaurants and bars.
The University of Strathclyde’s Campus Village in the centre of Glasgow is ideally located close to the city’s many attractions and is an affordable and attractive option for visitors. The accommodation, which is let from June to September includes over 300 en suite bedrooms, is set in attractively landscaped gardens adjacent to the Lord Todd Bar and restaurant complex. Bed and breakfast, full or half board and self catering are all available. Prices are competitive and are ideal for groups, offering single rooms, lounge areas and a friendly ambience.
Visitors in 2008 included Saga holidays, bands from all over the world attending the World Pipe Band Championships, church and voluntary groups, Three Peaks walkers, Scottish Youth theatre and sporting competitiors.
For further details tel: 0141 553 4148 or email or visit