IT WAS trumpeted as a key weapon in the battle to attract visitors to this year’s Scottish Homecoming.

But official figures reveal that less than half of those actually logging onto the official website come from abroad.

While the online presence has secured a little over 500,000 hits since its launch 18-months ago, a majority 60% of them are from web-surfers in the UK.

The large Scottish diaspora in the US only accounts for 16 per cent of visitors to the site, while Australians have show their indifference to the project with just two per cent of the total hits coming from Down Under.

The Scottish Government has ploughed a hefty £5 million into the Homecoming Scotland scheme and is hoping the move will lead to a £40 million boost to the country’s tourism industry.

More Scots see Homecoming ad

But recently released figures appear to show that hopes to entice those of Scottish descent back to their ancestral home is massively backfiring.

And it has also been revealed that twice as much funding had been allocated to advertise Homecoming Scotland on TV in Scotland than in the US.

Of the 524,426 visits to the website since its much-heralded opening in November 2007, the vast majority – 422,117 – have come in the past six months.

The Homecoming site now has an average weekly visitor figure of 22,780.

MSP Marlyn Glen has accused the Scottish Government of targeting the wrong markets in their bid to woo Scots back home.

She said: “Greater marketing emphasis should have been placed on Scottish-connected communities in America, Australia and New Zealand.

“Despite a major objective of the Homecoming being to attract visitors from overseas, the largest share of Homecoming Scotland’s £1.9 million marketing and communications budget, £784,000 has been spent in the UK and Ireland.

“North America, Australia and New Zealand together shared the lesser sum of £525,000 of the budget.”

“Scottish Government figures show that twice as much has been spent purchasing TV advertising publicising the Homecoming in Scotland than in the US, £112,000 to £56,000.”

Non-Scots find website a turn-off

American visitors to the official Homecoming website account for just 16 per cent of the total hits, while just five per cent come from Canada, three per cent from Germany and a measly two per cent from Australia.

The remaining 14 per cent come from the rest of the world.

But, according to EventScotland, a second website, cometoscotland.com, is promoting the Homecoming event in the States.

A link to the second site is clearly advertised on the Homecoming site, but it appears less than one-in-three visitors have followed the link.

The year-long Homecoming celebration has attracted much criticism since its launch.

The star-studded television advert, starring Lulu, Sean Connery and Eddi Reader, has been slated after it emerged that it would be barely seen outside Scotland.