Positive collaboration

Scotland must be promoted beyond tartan say MPs

Tartan Week
The tartan parade in New York

The UK Government’s promotion of Scotland must extend beyond tartan, whisky and golf and focus on modern successes, says a new report.

A committee of MPs found that contrary to reports of constant battles there is evidence that the UK and Scottish Governments often collaborate well when promoting Scotland’s interests abroad.

In Promoting Scotland Internationally, a new report published today, the Scottish Affairs Committee says more traditional Scottish associations such as tartan, whisky and golf act as useful hooks to create interest.

However, it says the UK Government “needs to do more so the country’s international profile reflects contemporary success stories such as Scotland’s world-leading scientific research, space and energy sectors.”

The report made hinted at “tensions” but made no specific mention of the recent spat between the two governments over Holyrood ministers promoting independence to foreign delegations which prompted an angry exchange of correspondence and public statements.

The committee visited the US to see first-hand how Scotland is promoted abroad and attended New York’s ‘Tartan Week’ where members spoke with Scottish diaspora groups to understand how such events helped develop and re-affirm links with Scotland.  

MPs also visited Washington DC, where a Scottish Government team is based within the British Embassy building. Committee members found the two governments’ teams were working constructively together.

They also found the UK Government’s larger international footprint enabled Scotland’s interests to reach a wider audience than Scottish Government bodies, and that this had a positive impact for Scottish trade.  

In order to ensure Scottish interests are promoted consistently across the world, the Committee recommends that the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office enhance training for UK embassy staff on Scottish trade and industry priorities.

It says the UK Government should also ensure more embassies are holding events to celebrate national days on St Andrew’s Day and Burns’ Night to highlight Scottish strengths.

Committee chairman Pete Wishart said:   “This inquiry demonstrated how constructively the Scottish and UK Governments can work together to further the interests of Scotland, which I hope can serve as a template for other areas on which our objectives are the same.  

Pete Wishart: evidence of collaboration

“Where a lot of the international promotion of Scotland can at times seems to be characterised by tension and relationship difficulties between the UK and Scottish Governments, we found that the work on the ground is largely collaborative and constructive with a focus on serving vital Scottish interests.  

“It’s critical the international view of Scotland keeps pace with the world-leading industries which set us apart.

“As a Committee, we really want to see more promotion of Scotland’s contemporary strengths – for example, its outstanding science and space sectors – with a clear strategy which sets out how we will use our national days to build Scotland’s reputation.  

“While visiting the USA, we found there was a huge amount of potential and, with a clearer direction from the UK Government as well as ongoing collaboration with their Scottish Government counterparts, Scotland’s standing in the world can certainly continue to grow. 

“Events such as Tartan Week in New York give a massive opportunity to promote Scottish business and tourism as well as nurturing vital relationships with our diaspora.

“We hope that both Governments can explore the possibility of expanding this initiative and develop effective strategies to maximise the benefits of such events.” 

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