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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 17/11/2022

As part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, we’re highlighting the many ways that Scotland’s tourism industry and cultural organisations have engaged with the Themed Year.

In this case study, we take a look at some of the new initiatives and campaigns created by tour operators and attractions in Scotland, to celebrate the Themed Year and engage with visitors.

Tours

Scotland’s tour guides are some of our very best storytellers, and a number of tour companies incorporated the Year of Stories logo and hashtags into their promotional activity or even created new tours.

The Scottish Tourist Guides Association have been ambassadors for the Themed Year, creating a dedicated Year of Stories web page and producing monthly stories about all sorts of subjects ranging from the real Robinson Crusoe to the Scottish born founder of Australia. Professional guides created the online content in a range of formats including videos, podcasts and written stories.

Edinburgh-based Mercat Tours got on board with the Themed Year from the start, using the campaign hashtags on their social posts to highlight some of the cities lesser-known tales and the range of ghost tours and history walks they provide in the capital. In April, they launched a social impact project to support vulnerable people in Edinburgh through storytelling. The Our Stories, Your City project raised funds to allow members of the Grassmarket Community Project the chance to experience a tour and attraction visit free of charge.

Dumfries & Galloway-based Mostly Ghostly teamed up with Alive Radio in a partnership inspired by Year of Stories. Kathleen Cronie, founder of Mostly Ghostly, joined DJ Kenny Murray as a co-presenter to bring a storytelling element to the Alive & Local programme. Mostly Ghostly’s popular tours and events, including the Festival of Folklore, explore the darker and more curious sides of the region’s history and the company made great use of the Year of Stories campaign hashtags on their promotional activity across the year.

Dark Dundee Tours are another company who took inspiration from the Themed Year, creating several new tours that showcased the lesser-known side of the city, including ‘Fannies & Belters’ and ‘Sails, Tails and Whales’.

The Real Mary King's Close invites visitors to follow Edinburgh’s former residents and hear their real stories on a tour of The Real Mary King’s Close. The company used the Year of Stories logo on promotional materials and celebrated the Year through a blog that highlighted Edinburgh’s Storytellers and the City’s Legacy in Literature. They also created ‘Stories & Wonders’ gin tasting tours in partnership with Edinburgh, which ran during July and offered visitors the chance to sample four unique gins which historical links to the city as well as hearing some of the stories behind Edinburgh’s trade in ale, whisky and gin.

Attractions

Scotland’s visitor attractions are packed with stories and a number of venues used the Themed Year to create new projects, events and online content in 2022, to celebrate what makes their attraction unique.

Glamis Castle took inspiration from Scotland’s Year of Stories to put on a summer festival and Great Storytelling Search in July. A busy programme of events included interactive storytelling sessions, Bookbug events for children and the Great Summer Storytelling Search, which took visitors of all ages for a bespoke tour in the castle grounds with a mix of popular fables, spooky tales and historical facts.

Shetland Museum and Archives created a dedicated web page in celebration of the Themed Year, as well as hosting a series of events as part of the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund with Shetland’s community stories at its heart. Activities included workshops, a storytelling competition, exhibition and series of films.

Shetland Museum & Archives in Lerwick
Shetland Museum & Archives in Lerwick
Image credit Promote Shetland / Euan Myles

Scotland’s Year of Stories provided the inspiration for a new gin created by Isle of Cumbrae Distillers, who create award-winning gins and offer tours of their distillery in Millport. The all-female distilling team decided to produce a new gin – Maura – an ancient Celtic name meaning ‘Star of the Sea’. The gin celebrates Scotland's women, who helped shape its history, legends and stories of the sea and the bottle features a specially designed label by Scottish painter Hope Blamire.

The Scotch Whisky Experience on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile also chose to align their activity with the Themed Year, using the campaign hashtags alongside their own #collectionchronicles social posts which highlighted a different story each week about one of the bottles in their whisky collection. Year of Stories was also a good match for their Tasting Tales events, which include stories about Scotch, the distilleries and the Scottish food to which they match the whiskies.

In November, Rosslyn Chapel launched an initiative which asked visitors from around the world to share a story about the attraction, as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022. The chapel, which was founded in 1446, has featured in a number of stories, most notably Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, but it has attracted visitors for generations, many of whom have recorded their stories in travel journals. Inspired by the Themed Year, this new project aims to add stories and memories from more recent visitors.

Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian
Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian
Image credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

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