By Cara Sulieman
SUSAN Boyle might be a jet-setting sensation after her meteoric rise to fame, but she has always made it clear that her heart lies in her humble hometown.
And now tourism bosses are hoping the global star can help them sing the praises of West Lothian and get visitors flocking to the area.
They plan to turn the passionate Blackburn resident into an ambassador for the area as part of a new campaign to attract people to its “hidden gems” as a tourism mecca.
According to research carried out by the newly formed Visit West Lothian, most people in Central Scotland don’t know where it is, never mind international visitors.
And many who do know its location describe it as “a place you would drive through to get somewhere else”.
But Anna Lightbody, tourism executive at Visit West Lothian, is hoping to change that with a little help from the area’s most famous export.Ms Lightbody said: “It’s such a massive opportunity for us.
“We know that Susan Boyle cares about her local community and we’re just hoping it’s something she agrees to do.
“Her rise to fame has put West Lothian on the map. It would be crazy not to try and tap into that.”
She went on to say that they were planning on using a new website along with social media to change people’s perception of West Lothian.
Ms Lightbody added: “It’s about changing that mindset that it’s just about industry.
“Often West Lothian is just a place you would drive through to get somewhere else, but everyone that comes here is pleasantly surprised.”
As well as using Susan to attract the visitors, a number of events are planned for the coming months and a new website has been set up to highlight attractions such as the Five Sisters Zoo.
Launching the campaign, West Lothian Provost Tom Kerr said: “West Lothian is one of Scotland’s hidden gems.
“This area is ideal for family outings, with some of the best parks in the country and a broad range of attractions and exciting events on offer every year.
“We are also home to some of the most beautiful and significant historical sites in the country.”