Video: Watch the new VisitScotland TV advert

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STUNT cyclist Danny MacAskill, Hollywood actor Alan Cumming, hip hop stars Young Fathers and Kelpies creator Andy Scott have been recruited for Scotland’s first ever global tourism drive.

National tourism agency VisitScotland today unveiled the first phase of a worldwide effort to boost the value of the industry by around £1 billion within the next four years.

Picture: VisitScotland

Picture: VisitScotland

Cycling sensation MacAskill - whose film made on Skye’s Black Cuillin mountain has been viewed more than 40 million times - joined forces with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Edinburgh Castle to kick-start a £4.25 million drive aimed at “harnessing a nation behind tourism.”

Games of Thrones star Iain Glen, Social Bite entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn and the nation’s athlete of the year, Laura Muir, are among the other backers of the new “Spirit of Scotland” campaign. It is said to signal a major shift in the way the country is promoted at home and abroad.

VisitScotland, which hired the Royal Scottish National Orchestra to record a new cinematic campaign theme, wants to build a global “movement” to propel a campaign expected to run for several years. It is hoped Scots at home and abroad will use the hashtag #ScotSpirit to spread the word on social media about the best aspects of the country.

New adverts to be rolled out on TV, radio and in cinemas will feature the tagline “Scotland - a spirit of its own”, with voice-overs recorded by Edinburgh-born Glen and Perthshire star Cumming for use in different global markets.

Scottish trials cyclist Danny MacAskill joins VisitScotland to reveal the true �Spirit of Scotland" at Edinburgh Castle. Picture: HEMEDIA

Scottish trials cyclist Danny MacAskill joins VisitScotland to reveal the true �Spirit of Scotland" at Edinburgh Castle. Picture: HEMEDIA

All the material in the campaign, which has been in development for almost a year, is inspired by seven “key traits” of the country and its people that VisitScotland believe will help lure potential visitors - warmth, humour, guts, spark, soul, determination and fun.

Chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “Tourism in Scotland continues to go from strength to strength against a difficult economic backdrop and uncertainty in travel.

“In the last 12 months there has been a seven per cent increase in visitors and an eight per cent increase in spend, but we cannot and must not be complacent.

“The new advertising visuals are breathtaking and I’m sure they will inspire many to make the journey to Scotland, but this is about so much more than stunning imagery. It’s about harnessing a nation behind tourism.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Danny MacAskill.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Danny MacAskill.

“We want everyone who cares for Scotland to get behind this campaign. Scotland is a unique place inhabited by a unique people – a combination that creates an inimitable spirit. The emotional pull of this spirit can’t be duplicated by other destinations. You have to come to Scotland to experience it.”

Charlie Smith, VisitScotland’s marketing director, added: “This isn’t going to be one of those campaigns where there is a big burst and it then disappears.

“This needs to last the test of time. I hope we’re taking about it in five years’ time. We’re starting it off, but the reason it will last and sustain is because we think others will pick it up, in terms of industry and the public.”

Ms Sturgeon said: “Each year, many thousands of visitors travel to our country to sample what it offers. They come from all over the globe to see our incredible attractions, share our experiences and sample our internationally renowned food and drink.

“But nowhere is the spirit of Scotland more evident than in its people - visitors can be guaranteed that the people they meet and the welcome they receive will leave a lasting impression. So who could be better to be involved in a new campaign to bring even more visitors to Scotland than those who live here or visitors who love our country?”

THE SCOTS WITH A STARRING ROLE

AT the heart of the “Spirit of Scotland” campaign are two adverts are set to a specially-commissioned score created by Glasgow composer Giles Lamb, who was asked by VisitScotland to write a piece of music to “create goosebumps.”

Time-lapse footage masterminded by Edinburgh-based filmmaker Ben Craig casts new light on familiar landmarks like the Glenfinnan Viaduct in the West Highland, the Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis and the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye.

Howeve the adverts also feature windsurfing in Tiree, kayaking in Arisaig and glamping in Skye, as well as new icons like the Kelpies, which were unveiled two years just off the M9 motorway in Falkirk, and Glasgow’s three-year-old Hydro arena, now the world’s third busiest music arena. Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers are seen performing there, while the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, currently touring Australia, represents Edinburgh’s festivals.

Mini-documentaries created for the campaign feature 12 Scots said to capture the spirit of the nation, including artist Andy Scott, who designed the giant Kelpies sculptures, Fiona Shepherd, The Scotsman’s pop and rock critic, who also runs music-themed walking tours in Glasgow, Rebecca Hutton, a Harris Tweed weaver and Skye scallop diver Ben Oakes.

VisitScotland wants tourism businesses to promote the new campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by choosing one of the seven key elements that they most identify with. Visitors to Scotland will also be urged to used the #ScotSpirit hashtag to share their own photos and videos.

The tourism body plans to strike up new “Spirit of Scotland” partnerships with leading digital brands to help extend its reach beyond traditional campaigns.

It will also be expanding into charitable work for the first time by helping to offer free short breaks to more than 100 vulnerable and disadvantaged adults and children.

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