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The iconic Kelpies
The iconic Kelpies

VisitScotland has put out a global call to those who live in the area to share their memorable places, hidden gems and fascinating stories.

The national tourism organisation has introduced a new global online community to allow Scots and those who love Scotland to bring alive the streets, characters and landscapes of the country.

The community will mean everyone worldwide from New York to New Guinea can go online in their own homes and ‘talk to a Scottish local’.

Residents are being asked to share their insider knowledge to inspire and excite visitors to make their own memories and adventures in the region.

Entitled iKnow Scotland, the new online and face-to- face community will give businesses, industry and visitors the tools to enable them to share the Spirit of Scotland with others.

VisitScotland also hopes that the new community will ensure Scotland remains one of the top holiday choices after a rapid rise of destinations worldwide.

Recent findings show in the last 12 years, 254 new destinations have appeared worldwide leading to significant competition for Scotland’s £5.2bn tourism industry.

The initiative will be backed by an intensive marketing campaign including radio, TV, print and digital advertising as well as a special short film featuring an Amy Macdonald soundtrack to inspire Scots and those who love Scotland to be part of the community.

And connecting with locals does seem to be a powerful tool.

In a recent visitor survey nearly half (49 per cent) of visitors said that they talked to locals to get advice on things to do while on holiday in Scotland.

And 47 per cent of visitors said they used visitscotland.com when planning a holiday to Scotland online, second only to Google.