Year of Natural Scotland TV advert and the Big April Adventures launched yesterday

VisitScotland has launched its biggest ever nature-focused tourism drive, highlighting the country’s natural environment and designed to get the Scottish population out of their armchairs and into the countryside for the Year of Natural Scotland 2013.

This £3.4 million campaign - which is expected to bring a return of some £68m to the Scottish economy, will target the key domestic market as well as seven international markets - North America, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands and Scandinavia through a range of marketing activity.

It will feature a new television advert and, among other activity, a major ticket giveaway from Scottish transport providers which will see at least 15,000 people enjoying free travel during April - allowing them to visit a Scottish island or to travel all over Scotland - courtesy of Caledonian MacBrayne and ScotRail. Coach operator Stagecoach has also offered 5,000 money-off vouchers that can be redeemed throughout the month of April.

Announced by Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing, the initiative, called the “Big April Adventures”, aims to get people out and about as much as possible this spring, coinciding with the first ever John Muir Day on April 21 which celebrates the 175th anniversary of the Scottish-born “father of National Parks’” birth. Discussions are also ongoing with other transport partners to expand this even further.

The new television advert depicts some of the country’s most iconic natural environments. Scenes include gannets on Ailsa Craig off the Ayrshire coast and red deer on the Isle of Rum. Additional scenes show white water rafting in Perthshire, mountain biking at Torridon in the Highlands, the beach at Arisaig in the West Highlands, Pittenweem Arts Festival in Fife, Andy Goldsworthy’s Striding Arches in Dumfries & Galloway and the Aurora Borealis in Shetland.

The advert, which follows on from a Year of Creative Scotland version last year that was seen by more than 18 million adults per quarter, will air for the first time on Friday during the STV programme Great Night Out. It will also run in UK cinemas over the coming weeks before screenings of Les Miserables.

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