'An opportunity to unite around the theme that Scotland is a great place to come to and that we have something to sell around the world' was how Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson started his contribution to the SNP Government's debate on Homecoming Scotland.
Mr Gibson said that the year, which celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, was a great opportunity to encourage Scot's from around the world to come home.
He welcomed the multiethnic outward looking parts of the year which will see a Bollywood step dance spectacular, a Jamaican Burns night and the Polish spring event which charts the closeness of the two nations.
He also said that music should be the key to attracting people….
"Bearing in mind out involvement in music and our contacts through the love of music we should recognise the excellent work of the Hebridean Celtic music festival held in Stornoway and other venues in July, which has asked supporters to send e-cards around the world not just to advertise the festival but also remind everyone that it part of the year of home coming."
He also highlighted the success of the Blas festival which was a spin off of the 2007 Highland year of Culture….
"Blas are already attracting visitors from Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Eire, Australia and France as well as performers to this country."
He argued that certain lessons can be learned from the Year of Highland culture in….
"We should not measure the benefits of homecoming Scotland only in bed nights and tourist dollars. We can be sure, however, that we have an opportunity to set in place a year that we can measure at the end more clearly than the parameters that were set for the Year of Highland Culture 2007. The report on that festival said that it was one of the most ambitious and complex cultural projects ever staged in the UK. Homecoming is more so. We should learn lessons from Highland 2007 and tighten up how we spend the money which is available."
He also stated that Homecoming offered an opportunity for people of Scotland to visit other parts of their own country. And that Homecoming should tap into every connection Scotland has throughout the word, pointing out that the strong historical and cultural links which exist with Russia.
He ended by saying that he was pleased that VisitBritain had given full support to the venture.