Mixed messages from both Stirling Council and Visit Scotland, the government body tasked with promoting Scotland as a tourist destination, continue to cause confusion among those planning to visit the country during 2014, the year of the Homecoming.
Back in October, Stirling Council announced the cancellation of an international clan gathering planned for July of that year, citing fears that the event would lose money. At that point CoSCA, the American Council of Scottish Clans and Associations, upon whose support the success of such an event would depend, emailed its 60000 members advising them to put any plans to travel to Scotland in 2014 on hold.
Subsequently, having been contacted by Visit Scotland, CoSCA sent a further email to its members asking them to await developments as plans are pulled together. Now, it seems that clan activities around the Homecoming are to be focussed on the celebrations of the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in late June, when there will be a full week of activities in Stirling and across the country.
However, it remains unclear what is actually proposed and what, if any, opportunities there will be for clans to gather en masse. As I write, www.stirling2014.co.uk, the website set up to promote the Bannockburn celebrations, does not appear to work. Statements from those in charge remain extremely vague, with the Chairman of Visit Scotland saying no more than that plans 'would appear to be coming together well.'
Furthermore, the June timing is disappointing as the anniversary of Bannockburn falls during school term time which would appear to prohibit families with school age children from taking part.
The Homecoming is a significant opportunity to showcase Scotland as a commercial and tourist destination and clarification of these events is becoming increasingly urgent.