HOTELIERS, B&B owners and restaurateurs are among those urged to swot up on ancestral tourism to help them tap into a potential £2.4 billion market in the run up to 2014, when Scotland welcomes the world for Homecoming, the Ryder Cup and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Genealogy is one of the fastest growing hobbies globally, and it is estimated up to four million people want to come to Scotland to search for their roots.
Companies are now being invited to take advantage of the market through a new Ancestral Tourism in Scotland guide published by Tourism Intelligence Scotland (TIS and set up by government and industry members.
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The guide tells firms how to gather local information and knowledge of ancestral landmarks such as churches, castles, battlefields, stately homes, museums to direct tourists to places of interest.
It also urges firms across the tourism sector to have a good working knowledge of local and national family research facilities.
The launch comes after Dr Bruce Durie, of the Ancestral Tourism Steering Group for Scotland, pointed to difficulties with the estimates of potential benefit to Scotland from ancestral tourism as there was no infrastructure in place to point people in the right direction.
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney said: "Scotland is preparing to welcome the World in 2014 when we take to the global stage with our second Year of Homecoming. Ancestral tourism will be a key component of next year's festivities with many visitors looking to trace their ancestry or just soak up the atmosphere of their forefathers' land.
Linda McPherson, director of Tourism at Scottish Enterprise, said: "Now is the perfect time for tourism businesses to introduce ancestral tourism elements into their current products and services, ahead of 2014."