AN advertising campaign aimed at attracting more visitors to Scotland has been accused of "pushing the SNP message" by promoting images of the baby box initiative.

The Scotland is Now site includes the Scottish Government video promotion for the baby box scheme.

The initiative is also featured in the Scotland is Now promotional video aimed at encouraging a global audience to visit, live, work and study in Scotland.


The £8m-a-year baby box scheme, announced by Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, at the Scottish National party conference before the last Holyrood election give all new mothers in Scotland free baby boxes including clothes, thermometers and books in an effort to improve their children’s life chances.

Its inclusion in the promotion along with the Queensferry Crossing has concerned some Conservative MSPs, including Rachael Hamilton, the shadow cabinet secretary for culture and tourism who has said on social media: "Scottish Government tourism campaign pushes SNP message with examples of the baby box and Queensferry Crossing. I would hope the intention of Visit Scotland isn’t to promote nationalism?"


After coming under fire for comments from Scott Russell who said "these are good things" she added: "Do you think it ‘right’ that Visit Scotland spend taxpayers money on SNP policy promotion?"

And she was supported by Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western, Alex Cole-Hamilton who questioned why 10 seconds of baby box footage is going to attract visitors.

He said: "How many visitors to Scotland are going to stay long enough to get knocked up, safely deliver their baby and apply for one? Self congratulatory on a monumental scale".

Ms Hamilton's comments were criticised by prominent members of the SNP including deputy leader Keith Brown who said: "Promoting Scotland is their job, it is though a side benefit that mentioning Scottish successes like the Queensferry Crossing and baby boxes makes Tories and Lib Dems apoplectic."


SNP Glasgow Cathcart MSP James Dornan added: "Are you winding us up here? You don’t think Visit Scotland which, in case the name didn’t give a big enough clue, is to encourage people to ‘visit Scotland’ shouldn’t include one of the great new landmarks in Scotland. You Tories really need to stop trying to diminish Scotland."

Scotland is Now was unveiled in April as part of a £6m initiative to bring together the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, Scottish Development International and Universities Scotland to promote the country globally.

A VisitScotland spokeswoman said: “Scotland is Now is a collaborative campaign to stimulate economic growth and position Scotland as a bold and positive country that is progressive, pioneering and inclusive.

“The UK – in particular, the north east of England and London – remains an incredibly important market and it is essential that we get people from across these areas, to visit, live, work, study, and invest in Scotland.

“The YouTube platform is one of the most efficient ways of engaging with people in that market and as part of the campaign launch for Scotland Is Now planned paid for advertising included promotion on YouTube in the form of a Youtube Masthead.

“This activity, which is only available on a UK wide basis, was live for a period of 24 hours on launch day, delivering impressive results with 85.7million impressions made and a unique reach of 11.4m users achieved.”

The baby boxes, worth about £160 each including distribution costs, are being made available to about 58,000 mothers a year from Tuesday, in a voluntary opt-in scheme. The initiative mirrors a programme running in Finland since the 1930s.

The cardboard boxes come with a fitted mattress, a sheet and bedding to allow them to act as temporary cribs as part of efforts to reduce cot death rates and promote safe sleeping.