Campaign aims to unlock Burns tourism in Dumfries in celebration of famous Scottish bard

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A campaign has been launched in the South of Scotland to unlock a tourist industry linked to Robert Burns and boost the local economy.

Tourism, the council, historical and hospitality groups are coming together in Dumfries as part of a ten-year plan to get fans of the Scottish bard into the area. Though born in Ayrshire, Robert Burns called Dumfries home and wrote some of his most famous pieces from the area.

There are more than half a dozen Burns historical visitor attractions all within a few miles of each other in Dumfries town centre and also just outside.

These include The Globe Inn, Theatre Royal, Robert Burns House and the Robert Burns Mausoleum.

Theatre Royal is Scotland’s oldest working theatre and is where Robert Burns wrote and performed. Credit: South of Scotland Destination Alliance, Duncan Ireland

The plan would involve creating a Burns audio walking tour, new signage at all major Burns heritage sites and the creation of a 'Burns Quarter.'

If approved the quarter would see a new visitor centre, museum, exhibition and conference centre in the town.

It is hoped that by creating an area in Dumfries and Nithsdale which is globally recognised for all things Burns, millions of pounds will be brought into the region.

Other parts of Scotland already capitalise on Burns tourism and those behind this new campaign feel Dumfries should do more.

In 2019 Dumfries and its surrounding areas are thought to have generated £21 million pounds for the Scottish economy thanks to its Burns connections. During the same year Alloway is believed to have generated around £100 million more than that.

Lee Medd, from the Annandale Distillery Group, told ITV Border: "If you look at the studies done, Ayrshire and Alloway already draw in 100 million pounds a year from Burns tourism.

"When you look at us here in the south of Scotland you are looking at more like 19 to 21 million pounds, so really we could grow that exponentially over the next three and four years, growing that and making people more aware of what is already here."

Robert Burns House, a place of pilgrimage for Burns enthusiasts from across the world. Credit: South of Scotland Destination Alliance

Mhairi Hastings, from The Globe Inn, and who is a Burns tour guide, added: "He is so popular all over the world.

"When you think of some of his works, Auld Lang Syne is sung by people all over the world all at the same time every year, when you start somebody talking about Burns' poetry, they realise they actually know more than they thought they did.

There are currently 250 Robert Burns clubs across the globe with members from as far away as Australia, South Africa and Argentina.

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