This year, for the first time, the huge contribution of Scots and Scotland to the founding of North America will be celebrated across the whole of Canada and the USA on Tartan Day, April 6.

The decision by the Federal Government of Canada to officially recognise Tartan Day will add fresh momentum to Scotland Week 2011.

From April 3, 2011, Scotland’s Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism, Jim Mather, and representatives of Scottish Development International and VisitScotland will carry out an intensive Scotland Week programme of business meetings and other engagements to build on existing links and promote Scotland as an internationally competitive and innovative business location. Deputy Presiding Officer Alasdair Morgan will represent the Scottish Parliament and take part in a number of Scotland Week activities.

This year the Scotland Week programme will include engagements in eight cities across North America, including the Canadian cities of Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto, and will include private business meetings with potential investors, trade events and networking opportunities. Other events will include the annual celebration of Tartan Day on April 6, the Scotland Run, now in its eighth year; and theatre performances of Black Watch by the National Theatre of Scotland in Chicago, and The Promise by Random Accomplice, in New York.

Mr Mather said:

“Scotland Week presents a valuable opportunity to engage with the key North American market to promote Scotland as a must-see, must-return visitor destination and a great place to invest and do business.

“My programme will focus firmly on creating and seizing opportunities to strengthen Scottish economic growth. I will be in several cities across the USA and Canada to meet with existing and target investors across a range of sectors and to showcase the numerous and superb investment opportunities Scotland has to offer.

“This will include a range of business engagements in Chicago, Toronto and in Calgary, where there are strong links with Scotland’s oil and gas industry. I will be in Ottawa to take part in Canada’s first formal celebration of Tartan Day. I will open a Scottish-US low-carbon energy symposium in Washington DC; and take part in the annual Tartan Day Parade in New York City.”

Stressing the importance of promoting Scotland to our largest export market, Minister for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said:

“The US and Canada remain vitally important to Scotland’s economy. In order to strengthen economic growth, we must continue to promote Scotland internationally as an innovative business location, a must see destination, and a creative and dynamic nation.

“Scotland Week is about developing and maintaining longer-term relationships and interest in our country and people to foster real prosperity for Scotland.

“In Canada, for the first time ever, Scotland and Tartan Day will be celebrated nationally. That recognition is hugely significant. Our activity will capitalise on that interest in order to attract new investors and forge deeper relationships with our largest tourism market outside of Europe after the US.

“Team Scotland, led by Jim Mather, will strive to ensure that Americans and Canadians see Scotland as an attractive place to visit, live, work, study, do business and invest in.”

As part of its contribution to the Scotland Week programme, VisitScotland will focus on Toronto and New York, showcasing Scotland’s quality food and drink, highlighting ancestral tourism, and promoting Scotland as a world-class adventure travel and business tourism, destination. Award-winning Scots chef Michael Smith of Skye’s internationally renowned Three Chimney’s restaurant will promote the very best of Scottish cuisine. To coincide with the 70th anniversary of the grounding of the S.S Politician, there will be private screenings of the film classic Whisky Galore, for travel trade and travel media guests, to promote film tourism and Scotland as the Home of Whisky.

VisitScotland’s Chief Executive, Malcolm Roughead, said:

“Scotland Week 2011 is a fantastic opportunity for Scottish tourism, allowing us to target the key Canadian and US markets at a time when the dollar is so competitive. We will take full advantage of heightened interest in Scotland around Tartan Day to ensure we promote the country and its many incredible attractions to North American consumers.

“In a challenging economic environment, it is more important than ever to target key markets, and Scotland Week is a great opportunity to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland”.

Anne MacColl, chief executive of Scottish Development International, said:

“Scotland’s track record of innovation, invention and enterprise has helped us to attract significant US investment in the past, and both the US and Canada continue to be huge export markets for Scottish products and services. We are continuing to raise awareness of Scotland’s capabilities and attractiveness as an inward investment location during Scotland Week 2011.

“This year in particular, we’re on a mission to highlight Scotland’s ambitious approach to achieving a low carbon economy, our world-leading expertise in the renewable energy field and how North America can benefit from working in partnership with Scottish companies and research organisations.”