I first became aware of the importance of peoples’ search for their ancestral roots when, as Chief Executive of Orkney Tourist Board and in association with the Great Canadian Travel Company, we initiated the first Orkney Homecoming. It took place in 1999, an emotionally-charged event that touched the lives of visitors and local people alike.
Since then, ancestral tourism has grown in importance, bringing people from all over the world back home to Scotland to – often almost literally – walk in the footsteps of their ancestors. Through consultancy work for VisitScotland and a wide range of other organisations I have been able to play a part in the development of this distinctive genre of tourism. I have written, lectured and run training courses throughout Scotland and elsewhere and remain passionate about the benefits ancestral tourism can bring – personal benefits for researchers and economic, social and cultural benefits for the communities involved.