When it comes to Scottish tourism, castles, lochs, wildlife and whisky are usually touted as the main attractions.

But over the last few years interest has been growing in a different aspect of the country’s culture – the Gaelic language.

VisitScotland has seen a 72 per cent rise in website visitors seeking out Gaelic content over the last four years, with a particular peak during the 2020 lockdown.

And now the language is being viewed as an important part of the sector’s future as it looks to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

This week sees the country celebrate the first ever World Gaelic Week (Seachdain na Gàidhlig), with VisitScotland using the event to highlight the significant role the language plays in tourism and events.

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland chief executive, said: “The importance of Gaelic to the Scottish tourism and events industry cannot be underestimated. As the sector starts to recover from the devastation of COVID-19, finding ways to position Scotland as a unique and stand-out holiday choice is vital.

“Gaelic and its rich culture are an important part of Scotland’s tourism offer and provides an extra layer of authenticity for visitors with a unique culture you can only truly experience in Scotland. This only strengthens the experience we know means so much to visitors.

“World Gaelic Week and the Year of Stories 2022 give an opportunity to highlight why we believe the language will continue to prove an asset to Scotland’s identity and our tourism industry.”

As part of Scotland’s 2022 Year of Stories, a number of events will take place across the country sharing how Gaelic has influenced our culture and the way we speak and tell stories now.

These include Tìr Ìseal nan Òran (Tiree: low land of song), an island-wide creative project which aims to celebrate and promote Tiree’s stories, heritage, culture, and Gaelic language.

This event will feature seven stories from the island’s history and mythology and showcase local artists and young people through a mixture of traditional music and song, film and photography, theatre and writing.

Auchindrain Historic Township (Bail’ Ach’ an Droighinn) – the last surviving Highland Township near Inveraray - also plans to celebrate by presenting a new series of Argyll folk tales on their YouTube channel.

While in Skye, Gaelic singer Anne Martin will lead An Tinne (The Link), a special programme of events linking a collection of songs, stories, and objects from across the centuries exploring the connection between Scotland and Australia.

There are also several other events celebrating the language taking place at museums, arts centres and festivals throughout Scotland as part of the Year of Stories, which is being delivered in partnership with Museums Galleries Scotland.

Lucy Casot, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland, said: “Storytelling has been at the heart of Scottish Gaelic culture for well over a thousand years so it’s fitting that this rich language and associated oral traditions feature prominently in the Scotland’s Year of Stories programme.

“Through the Community Stories Fund we are delighted to support a number of events that highlight traditional Gaelic tales and legends in creative ways, bringing them up to date for contemporary audiences.

“This vibrant living language is an important means of passing on ideas about people, place and nature, so we’re really pleased to enable communities to share their stories more widely, helping to connect audiences with an important part of Scotland’s culture.”

Joy Dunlop, director of Seachdain na Gàidhlig, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled by the response to Seachdain na Gàidhlig, people have been so busy creating their own ideas to feature within the extensive programme; we currently have over 80 events taking place throughout the globe, with more being added to our online events diary daily.

“This proves that Gaelic is thriving, not just here in Scotland but across the world and I can’t wait to celebrate our language and culture this week on a global scale.”