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Visit Scotland | Alba

Ancestral tourism is a growing and important market for Scotland. With over 50 million people across the globe able to lay claim to Scottish ancestry, the scope and potential of this market for Scottish tourism is huge. The explosion in DNA-based ancestry and the high profile films and TV shows featuring Scotland, such as Outlander, have served to bring Scots ancestry to the fore like never before. 

Ancestral visitors to Scotland tend to...

Stay longer

Ancestral visitors tend to stay longer than average

Travel off peak

They are more likely than average to visit out with the peak summer months of July and August

Travel widely

They will visit areas across Scotland related to their own family history or ancient clan lands

Feel connection

They have strong emotional connections to Scotland and are likely to become repeat visitors.

Over a quarter of respondents to our 2015/2016 Visitor Survey from the main ancestral tourism source countries – the USA, Canada and Australia – cited Scottish ancestry as a major motivation for visiting Scotland. More than a third said their ancestors lived in Scotland.

The good news is that there are real opportunities for businesses right across the country to benefit. Whether ancestral visitors are coming to ‘walk in the footsteps’ of their ancestors, or to take things further in undertaking research while here, this toolkit contains tips to help you capitalise on this important opportunity. 

Top tips

  • History

    Ensure you and your staff have at least a basic knowledge of the history of your local area, including key historic events and sites in the region, so you can speak knowledgably to guests exploring their Scottish connections.

  • Clans

    If your area has a strong connection with particular surnames, find out about any clans/families associated with those names, and any relevant clan/family sites in the areas.

  • Website

    Ensure that you highlight these connections in your communications with potential guests, such as highlighting the connections on your website and in newsletters.

  • Accommodation

    If you are an accommodation provider, think about ways in which you could bring the history of your building or area to life for guests.

  • Film and TV

    Keep abreast of developments in the film and TV world which feature famous Scots and events in Scotland’s history. From Braveheart to Outlander, stories seen on screen encourage visitors to come to Scotland, especially those with Scottish roots!

  • Events

    One of the things visitors with Scottish roots love to do is meet their fellow Scots. Keep abreast of events in the local area where they can meet the locals such as Highland Games, trad music festivals, pub sessions, etc.

  • Tell the story

    If you run a visitor attraction with historic or ancestral connections, consider how you can tell its story in an engaging and interactive way, which will really bring the story to life for ancestral visitors.

  • Research

    Be ready to assist those ancestral visitors who want to do genealogical research as part of their visit. Ensure you and your staff know where local records offices, libraries and family history societies are. Pay them a visit to find out what records they hold and how your guests can access them.

Local Scottish ancestry sites and resources

Find a wide variety of Scottish ancestry sites and resources from across the country.

Coming Home: Ancestral Journeys in Scotland

The Scottish Council on Archives has launched a short film to promote Scotland as a unique destination for ancestral tourists.

Coming Home – Ancestral Journeys in Scotland highlights how Scotland’s rich collection of archives held by local authorities, national bodies as well as small heritage and community groups tell the stories of the people who have left Scotland over the last four hundred years. 

Take a look at the short film which includes the economic benefits of ancestral tourism.

There's also a longer film which shows the journey taken by an ancestral visitor.

Useful links

Related links