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Scotland's special effect

Picture the scene.

A London office earlier this month. On the wall a TV screen plays a trailer for the upcoming film The Railway Man. At one point a steam train puffs across Glenfinnan Viaduct, a vision of Scotland at its most picturesque. In the London office the receptionist glances up and asks his Scottish visitor: "Is that a special effect?"

And perhaps it is. Perhaps we should start seeing the landscape of Scotland as our very own special effect, one crafted by nature rather than George Lucas's company, Industrial Light & Magic.

The news today that the most popular destinations for self-catering holidays and mini-breaks include Perthshire, Wester Ross and Argyll (not so far from Glenfinnan if you go to the top) suggest we've known that all along. Scotland's scenery is as much a draw as our culture and hospitality (and probably a bit more than the climate) for visitor and native alike.

Next year we will be looking to sport - with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles - to increase our visibility. These are opportunities that need to be exploited. But they are also one-off events. Glenfinnan Viaduct is forever.

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