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Chairman will be top Scot

Cantlay goes Down Under before handover

Mike CantlayMike Cantlay is making one last big excursion before he hands over the reins as chairman of Scotland’s national tourism organisation. He will be in Australia as ‘top Scot’ at one of the country’s premier gatherings celebrating Scottish culture and cuisine.

Mr Cantlay, who is stepping down from VisitScotland in March after six years in the post, will be guest of honour at the fourth annual Scots Day Out (SDO) in Bendigo, Victoria, on 13 February. The Highland Games-style event is attended by thousands of people with Scottish ancestry from across Australia each year.

The honour coincides with Mr Cantlay being in the country with VisitScotland and its industry partners to promote Scotland at trade meetings and events during The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo’s international tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Australia represents a key diaspora stronghold with some 1.5 million Australians of Scots origin or with Scottish ancestry. Latest figures reveal there has been a year-on-year increase in trips to Scotland by our friends Down Under since 2012.

In 2014, Australia was the third largest international market for number of nights spent in Scotland (1.67 million) and for expenditure (£129 million). With connectivity between Australia and Scotland increasing in recent years, via Middle Eastern airlines such as Etihad and Qatar, the time has never been better to encourage visitors from Australia to visit Scotland and walk in the footsteps of their ancestors.

At Scots Day Out, Mr Cantlay will be joining Greater Bendigo City Council Mayor, Councillor Rod Fyffe – himself a University of Edinburgh graduate with ancestry that dates back to Kirriemuir, Angus, in the 19th Century – in taking the salute from bands and clans. The event will also display the new Scottish-registered official Bendigo tartan.

Mr Cantlay will then co-host a special luncheon with Cllr Fyffe for key Bendigo and Scottish community leaders from Melbourne and Victoria, before a networking event.

He said: “I am delighted to attend Scots Day Out which is a wonderful community celebration of our traditional and contemporary culture. Bendigo has a fine reputation as a tourism leader in Australia and I look forward to discovering further links between the city and Scotland.

“Events such as Scots Day Out act as a spiritual shop window for Scotland, giving attendees a flavour of our beautiful country. It presents us with a fantastic opportunity to engage the Scottish diaspora and encourage them to look back ‘home’ in 2016 to visit Scotland during the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.”

Cllr Rod Fyffe, Greater Bendigo City Council Mayor, said: “The visit by Mike Cantlay and the VisitScotland team will be greeted by the symbolism and colour of our wonderful new official Bendigo Tartan. Since the discovery of gold, Scots have more than played their part in Bendigo’s journey to the cosmopolitan 21st century regional city we are today and council looks forward to exploring possible new links with Scotland in education and innovation, sport, creative industries and culture.”

VisitScotland will be joined in Australia by Festivals Edinburgh, The Spires Serviced Apartments, Highland Explorer Tours, and Parkhill Apartments to promote Scotland at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

In addition to attending Scots Day Out and meeting with leading ancestral contacts, Mr Cantlay will also hold meetings with chief executives and senior representatives from airlines, tour operators and hotel investors, as well as meeting with his counterparts in Tourism Australia and the Victoria Major Events Company.

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