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Tracing your #ScotSpirit

Press Release   •   Jan 13, 2017 11:10 GMT

Tour guide and genealogist Ian Walker is the star of the latest Spirit of Scotland film. Credit: Cut Media

NOT many people are able to say that they can give others a ‘sense of who they are’, but this is exactly what tour guide and genealogist Ian Walker does for a living.

Dumfriesshire-born Ian stars in the latest Spirit of Scotland online film from VisitScotland in which he lifts the lid on the magic and “yearning” that attracts visitors from around the world to Scotland to trace their roots.

Since he established his company, Borders Journeys, in 2011 after a career in the civil service, Ian has welcomed visitors from around the world including the USA, Canada, Hong Kong and Malta, to Scotland to discover more about their ancestors.

In the film, Ian (51) talks about visitors ‘coming home to Scotland’ and allowing them to ‘walk in the footsteps of their ancestors.’ The story starts at ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh and takes viewers to St Bride’s Kirk in the grounds of Blair Castle in Pitlochry and to the historic battle site at Culloden.

Ian was born in Dumfriesshire and grew up on his family’s farm near Lockerbie. His mother’s family was from the Yarrow Valley in Selkirkshire and growing up, he was inspired by the stories his grandparents would regale him with, stories that he now passes on to his visitors.

Ian said: “For most people what draws them back to Scotland to trace their ancestors is a yearning to come home.

“For many visitors their ancestors are brought to life when they learn about the people, places and traditions connected with them. I love sharing my homeland’s stories and histories with visitors and it is a privilege to tell the real local stories that my parents and grandparents told me.

“I was delighted to take part in the Spirit of Scotland campaign and have the opportunity to share my passion and knowledge not just for Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders, but Scotland as a whole.

“I am fortunate to have turned my long-held dream into a reality and am now able to offer visitors an insight into their ancestors and a sense of who they are. I hope that by taking part in this film, I am able to inspire others to follow their ScotSpirit and take that journey home.”

Doug Wilson, VisitScotland Regional Director said: “I am delighted that Ian was chosen to star in this latest film. Ian was inspired by the stories he heard from his family growing up in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway. Each region across Scotland – not just the South of Scotland – has its own myths, stories and legends which people like Ian are determined to keep alive and pass on to generations and visitors for years to come.

Through VisitScotland’s Spirit of Scotland global campaign and #ScotSpirit social movement we aim to raise the profile and reputation of the region as an outstanding place to visit, and to invest, live and work in.

“Ancestral tourism is an industry worth £101million to the Scottish economy and 2017 as the Year of History, Heritage and Archaelogy is the ideal opportunity to delve into the past and discover more of Scotland’s fascinating stories at some of the fantastic events taking place across the country.”

Ian’s film is the latest in a series of online short documentaries produced as part of the £4.25million Spirit of Scotland campaign which launched in February 2016.

The films – which have attracted more than 65million views – aim to capture the spirit of Scotland through the eyes of those that live and work here and include a piper in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the train driver of the Jacobite Steam Train and a scallop diver in Skye.

The global campaign is built on extensive research which shows that people think Scotland has unique spirit – whether it’s the magic of the landscapes or the warmth of the people. Everyone who has shared their #ScotSpirit will become part of a special social movement. To find out more, visit:

To find out more about researching your family history, visit

To view Ian’s film, visit:

Tour guide and genealogist Ian Walker is the star of the latest Spirit of Scotland film. Credit: Cut Media

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international       opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One       Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit or follow @scotgovESIF
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
  • For information about business events in Scotland go to
  • 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology

  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017