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Homecoming Scotland director: 85% of events are not new and majority will not receive direct funding

The vast majority of events in the Homecoming Scotland tourism showcase will receive no direct funding from its main organiser and about 85% of the events are not new, according to its director.

Homecoming features 430 events and activities, and has been billed as "a year-long programme to showcase all that's great about Scotland".

Of these events, 356 will receive no funding, around 64 are new and around 15 of these new events will receive direct funding, Homecoming 2014 director Caroline Packman told Holyrood's Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee.

The 356 events that receive no funding will still get "real added value" from inclusion in the Homecoming calendar and international marketing, she added.

But Labour MSP Hanzala Malik said he is "not convinced" that marketing support will be enough, particularly in relation to the multicultural Glasgow Mela, which is an annual event but is being promoted as part of Homecoming this year.

Ms Packman said: "In the overall programme of 430 events, 23% which have been allocated funding are new and 15% of the total are new.

"Of the 430 events, we are providing funding support to 74 and in all those cases those events will be enhanced by the presence of Homecoming funding.

"So, it may be that they are able to incorporate new programming elements this year, or that they are able to target a new market segment, perhaps promoting themselves overseas for the first time."

The money is targeted to ensure Homecoming 2014 receives a return on its investment, she added.

SNP MSP Mike MacKenzie said: "There's 74 events being directly supported with financial assistance, but what kind of support will be given to the remainder of the events?"

Ms Packman added: "The first benefit is that they are listed on our website in the events section, so that when people come to our website - which receives over 15 million visits a year - when searching for Homecoming events their events will be returned, so it extends the reach of those events.

"Also, there's the opportunity if they are particularly unusual, quirky or significant in some way they will be included in our ongoing PR activity in Scotland, the UK and the rest of the world.

"There is the opportunity to be included in our e-newsletter and use the Homecoming branding as part of the overall promotion activity."

She said there is "real added value" for those who do not receive direct support but Labour MSP Hanzala Malik said this may not be enough for the Glasgow Mela.

"It's the biggest Mela in Scotland and I think it needs a lot more support than you have indicated," he said.

"Considering it's the year of the Commonwealth Games I would like to feel that you would do more than just a chat."

Ms Packman said: "I will certainly take that away and look at it again."

Visit Scotland chief executive Malcolm Roughhead claimed the Scottish tourism industry is "in good shape" ahead of the Homecoming 2014 showcase.

Mr Roughhead said: "I believe the industry is in good shape. I think there is a sense of collaboration and partnership which is very strong, not just within the narrow definition of the tourism industry but within the wider visitor economy.

"2014 is clearly a unique opportunity for us to position Scotland on a global stage and I can assure you that we are doing everything we can with our partners to ensure that we take full advantage of that opportunity."

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