Row over tourism at Boyle-ing point


By Kirsty Topping

Susan Boyle is at the centre of a row over Scottish tourism

SUSAN Boyle is at the centre of a row over backing Scotland’s 4.2bn-a-year tourism industry.

The star’s handlers have been criticised for not acting on pleas from VisitScotland to help promote the country.

The official tourism body has confirmed that it twice asked Ms Boyle to back campaigns but did not receive a reply on either occasion.

Susan appeared today not to know about the requests and suggested she would be raising the matter with her management.

Emails provided by VisitScotland under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that in May 2009, VisitScotland tried to sign up the star.

Tourism executives wanted the Britain’s Got Talent Star to take part in their Perfect Day campaign, which showed off things to see and do in Scotland.

The email from VisitScotland’s Caroline Inglis to Sara Lee of Talkback Thames, the company which makes Britain’s got Talent, said:

“I was wondering if Susan Boyle would be interested in getting involved in our Perfect Day campaign?

“I was hoping that we could work with Susan to develop her very own Perfect Day experience, for instance, her perfect day in Scotland might include afternoon tea at Monachyle Mhor followed by a stroll along the river in Callander (just as an example). “

The email was forwarded to Sony Music, who represent Ms Boyle, but VisitScotland said they did not received a reply, despite a follow-up phone call.

VisitScotland eventually used English actors Tony Robinson and Richard E Grant to front the campaign alongside Scottish DJ Calvin Harris.

VisitScotland tried again last year, inviting Ms Boyle to the May launch in London of the Edinburgh Festivals summer season.

A spokesman from VisitScotland said:

“I can confirm that we received no response on either occasion from Ms Boyle’s management.

“Follow-ups were made by telephone in both instances. However, Ms Boyle opted not to attend either event. “

Susan Boyle appeared not to know anything about the VisitScotland invitations when interviewed at her home this afternoon.

She said: “It’s something I’d like to be involved in, I’d be honoured. I’ve been to Callender, I think Callender is a wonderful place, I love Scotland, I love everything about it. Susan’s Perfect Day? I like the sound of that.”

Susan added that all such requests had to go through her management.

Told that they had, she said: “I’ll need to ask them about that.”

Scots travel businesses last night criticised the failure to respond.

Tony Ffinch (corr), a councillor for the area that covers Callander, said:

“I’m disappointed that Susan did not take part because Perfect Day was quite a successful campaign and it certainly has brought in people according to the reports that have come back. “

“It’s strange and rather annoying for VisitScotland. “

Mark Scott, Director of tourism website Travel Scotland, said Ms Boyle’s involvement would have been a major boost for Scottish tourism.

He said:

“It’s about brand awareness. Scotland is not as popular as it used to be. Susan’s big in the States – they’ve loved what she’s done. The US market for tourists to Scotland has dwindled, so her endorsement would definitely be an asset.

“And with a story like hers – a rags to riches story – it would be crazy not to take advantage of that. Sometimes the management don’t even pass this information on, so whether she would even know about it or not isn’t clear. “

Tom Lewis, owner of Monachyle Mhor, on the shores of Loch Voil, said he would have welcomed the singer to his hotel. He said:

“I think it was an excellent idea but if her people don’t want to pass these things on then it’s their loss. “

Ironically, Ms Boyle visited Callander last month, popping into the Old Bank Hotel to sign autographs for fans while visiting with her niece.

She also filmed a music video at nearby Loch Ard, which excited visitors to the area in 2010.

Lesley and Alex Stevens, of the town’s Westerton B & B said they were

“disappointed’ she had not backed the VisitScotland campaign.

“Any marketing opportunity that is missed is bad for the area,’ said Alex.

VisitScotland declined to criticise Ms Boyle or her management.

A spokeswoman said:

“Susan Boyle is a fantastic ambassador for Scotland and it is great to see her having such global success, which of course helps raise the profile of Scotland abroad. “

Sony Music declined to comment.


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