Thursday, 25 October 2012

To Be or Not to Be – Clan Gathering 2014

The story about whether or not there will be a clan gathering in 2014 has played out with all of the drama of a soap opera with changes being made daily over the past week.  

2009 was the first Homecoming and such a rousing success that Tourism Scotland has decided to do it all again in 2014. The year 2014 has been and will continue to be designated as Homecoming.  

But the challenges have begun. Homecoming 2009 was held in Edinburgh. A city well versed in hosting the masses. The basic infrastructure is already in place. The city knows how to deal with medical emergencies.  Security and safety responses can be put into place. Transportation is already in place. To host the various clans planning to attend the Homecoming, Tent cities were erected. Hotels were prepared for a brisk business. The event was well planned for, well managed and ended as a resounding success.  

Fast forward. The new venue is to be Stirling. A city with a population 1/5th the size of Edinburgh. A quite sleepy little city with lots of history, lots of scenery and a fraction of the tourists. The event was slotted to happen at the same time as the Stirling Highland games in July. Shortly after the announcement was made, calls started flooding in from the clans wanting to know about tent rentals. No doubt, panic set in and plans were suddenly in need of reconsideration. Back to the planning table. An announcement about scrapping the idea of the Gathering happening in Stirling, and reported on in the Scotsman.  

But millions of £s in tourism were at risk. As well as Scotland’s reputation. So, the idea of locating the tented city to Bannockburn in June seemed to make more sense. A decision was made to have the clans arrive close to the time of the celebrations for the 700th anniversary of the famed Battle of Bannockburn. The National Trust took over planning details. All seemed well.  

Then, Stone Mountain 2012, the largest Highland Games takes place in the USand confusion erupts. Here are two articles that ran almost simultaneously, the first on Oct 20th announces the move to Bannockburn. The second on Oct 21stannounces the Chiefs’ dismay that the entire idea of a clan gathering has been put on ice.

Somewhere along the way, someone realizes the tight timelines involved in getting the whole thing off the ground and mentions that 2015 might be a better choice. And the press has a hay day. Of course, Tourism Scotland has designated 2014 and if there is to be a Clan Gathering, it will coincide with the other events planned throughout 2014, the Year of Homecoming II. So in an attempt to quell the rumours and settle the nerves, this announcement came out yesterday:

Of course, this one needs to be read with a grain of salt since it is from the same source who reported on Sunday that the whole thing was off and perhaps postponed to 2015.  

Unfortunately, the Irish are putting the Scots to shame in that their celebrations for Homecoming 2013 are well organized and well underway, also putting them on target to be well attended. If the Scots don’t get their act together shortly, they may well miss out on millions in tourism revenues.

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