|Holyrood rebranded (temporarily!)|
Over the three days of the exhibition (Tuesday-Thursday), there are three major themes being tackled by the SCA team - Ancestral Tourism, Business Archives and Digital Continuity. A few months ago I was asked to become one of the directors of the Scottish Archive Network, and so partly in that capacity, but mainly with regards to the main day job as a genealogist, I was asked to come along to act as an 'expert' on the exhibition booth on the Ancestral Tourism day - basically to answer questions asked by anybody willing to ask! There's a great deal of potential in the ancestral tourism area within Scotland just now - in 2012 we had 800,000 visitors to Scotland, but that is expected to rise to 4.3 million in the next five years, with a dramatic projected increase in revenue from £100 million to some £2.5 billion. Yes, people do want to come to Scotland for a game of golf and a wee dram - but increasingly they also want to find out if their ancestors did the same! To help them do that, the archive sector is crucial, because it is the nation's guardian when it comes to personal heritage. It quite literally has all the answers - or at least those have survived the last few centuries.
|Irene and Gerry|
|Ben and Roseanna Cunningham MSP|
The main flood of interest emerged though when MSPs returned to the chamber in the evening to vote. Although we were due to finish at 5pm, the voting session was just ending, so we stayed for a bit longer - and then they came out, enthusiastic MSPs in attack formation! With the day's business out of the way, several members came over to have a chat. In particular I had a great conversation with Paul Wheelhouse MSP for the South of Scotland, who has been keenly pursuing his family history for some time. He told me how impressed and helpful the Hawick Heritage Hub (www.heartofhawick.co.uk/heritagehub) had been with his ancestral research, and how useful ScotlandsPeople (www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk) had been also, and continues to be. He also mentioned that he had a bit of a situation in Northern Ireland to resolve, with a family member who had moved over from England to there in the 19th century. If only a Northern Irish born family historian was to hand...! I gave him a few steers, but the key thing I got from the conversation was just how appreciative he was of the various developments happening in Scotland just now - particularly with the integrated hubs linking registrar's offices to archives, such as that at the Burns Monument Centre in Kilmarnock and at Hawick. It is truly one of the key ways forward to help develop the growing ancestral tourism market here, by the further integration of access to resources for visitors (and not forgetting us living here!), and it was great to see the recent initiative to do this being so well appreciated.
If you are a business wishing to find out more about ancestral tourism plans, check out my blog post at http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/ancestral-tourism-workshops-for.html for details of a series of workshops coming shortly across the country from Tourism Intelligence Scotland, a partnership of Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland.
(With thanks to Ben Bradshaw, Victoria Brown and Gary Cocker)
UPDATE: George Mackenzie and Irene O'Brien both have articles in today's Scotsman on the theme of ancestral tourism and archives - for George's visit http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/peep-into-the-past-can-build-bridges-1-3132138, for Irene's visit http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/value-in-preserving-our-recorded-history-1-3132137
My latest book, Discover Scottish Civil Registration Records, is now available from http://www.gould.com.au (print) and http://www.gen-ebooks.com/unlock-the-past.html (ebook), whilst Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet is available at http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Tracing-Your-Irish-History-on-the-Internet/p/3889/. My next Pharos Scottish course, Scotland 1750-1850: Beyond the OPRs, starts Nov 13th - see http://pharostutors.com.