A NEW action group has launched a campaign to celebrate Dumfriesshire’s connections to Robert Burns in a bid to unlock millions of pounds in tourism.
Campaigners from the Burns Tourism Action Group are calling for Dumfries and the surrounding area to be officially recognised as Burns’ chosen home.
Scotland’s bard was born in Alloway in Ayrshire, but chose to make a life for himself in Dumfriesshire, where he built Ellisland Farm in 1788.
It is estimated that in 2019 the area’s Burns connections generated £21 million in visitor spend. However, that same year Alloway generated around £100 million more than that.
The Burns Tourism Action Group is supported by Dumfries and Galloway Council and the South of Scotland Destination Alliance.
They have drawn up a six-month plan to promote Burns tourism locally and want to devise a new audio walking tour, a guides portal and new signage at all major heritage sites with QR codes linking to a new website where visitor information, Burns insights and walking routes will all be available in one place.
Commenting on the ambitious plans, South of Scotland Destination Alliance CEO David Hope-Jones said: “There is a palpable sense of pride in the Burns heritage in Dumfriesshire, and you can really see that through the commitment to honouring his legacy through the myriad Burns attractions in the area.”
The group’s long term plans also include the creation of a Burns quarter within Dumfries, which was initiated by the custodians of The Globe Inn, Professor David Thomson and Teresa Church, who also own the Annandale Distillery and Comlongon Castle. It would feature a new visitor centre, museum, exhibition and conference centre.
Professor David Thomson added: “The Burns Quarter in Dumfries isn’t solely about keeping the memory of Robert Burns alive, it’s also about bringing Burns’ words to life, to influence the way we think about ourselves today and the kind of world we want to live in.
“There’s so much that we can still learn from Burns. Bringing Burns to life in the centre of Dumfries is what our Burns Quarter is all about.”