Gaelic on the rise

VisitScotland has revealed how visitor interest in Scottish Gaelic has risen over the last four years. The research was released during the first ever World Gaelic Week/Seachdain na Gàidhlig, which took place in March, and celebrated and promoted the importance of Gaelic, and highlighting the significant role the language plays within tourism and events. From 2018 to 2021 there was a 72 per cent increase in the number of users visiting Gaelic related content with a peak in pageviews during the 2020 lockdown.

With 2022 marking Scotland’s Year of Stories, a key aim is to share how Gaelic is woven into the fabric of the country and has influenced the way we speak and tell stories now.

Celebrating Gaelic

A nationwide programme of more than 100 events presented by a range of partners from national organisations to community groups are taking place this year, in recognition of the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. And over 20 of these events are celebrating Gaelic. Gaelic’s popularity has also grown on the language app, Duolingo. The learning tool launched the free course on St Andrew’s Day 2019 and there are now 430,000 active learners studying Scots Gaelic on Duolingo. The course has been a success in Scotland, the UK, and the world over with the largest number of learners in the USA (35 per cent) – which speaks to the connection the Scottish diaspora has with the language. The app also has Gaelic learners from locations as far afield as Chad, Equatorial Guinea, San Marino, the Falkland Islands, and Tajikistan.

VisitScotland launched its first Gaelic toolkit last year to help the tourism industry to build upon the lure of the language with visitors. VisitScotland launched its first Gaelic toolkit last year to help the tourism industry to build upon the lure of the language with visitors. It highlights ways to use Gaelic and its culture to create a more immersive visitor experience such as teaching staff some basic phrases and translating place names to reveal their Gaelic origins and meanings A diverse range of events that celebrate the Gaelic language are being supported through the Year of Stories Community Stories Fund. These events will be hosted by museums, festivals, arts centres and community groups right across Scotland, including on the islands of Tiree, Mull and Lewis.

Scotland’s identity

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said: “The importance of Gaelic to the Scottish tourism and events industry cannot be underestimated. As the sector starts to recover from the devastation of COVID-19, finding ways to position Scotland as a unique and stand-out holiday choice is vital. Gaelic and its rich culture are an important part of Scotland’s tourism offer and provides an extra layer of authenticity for visitors with a unique culture you can only truly experience in Scotland. This only strengthens the experience we know means so much to visitors. World Gaelic Week and the Year of Stories 2022 give an opportunity to highlight why we believe the language will continue to prove an asset to Scotland’s identity and our tourism industry.”

Joy Dunlop, Director of Seachdain na Gàidhlig, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled by the response to Seachdain na Gàidhlig, people have been so busy creating their own ideas to feature within the extensive programme; we currently have over 90 events taking place throughout the globe, with more being added to our online events diary daily. This proves that Gaelic is thriving, not just here in Scotland but across the world and I can’t wait to celebrate our language and culture this week on a global scale. If anyone wants to take part, free online resources, learning materials and advice can be found on our official website, where visitors can also find further information about the events.”

Main photo: An Lanntair in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, is holding Year of Stories events celebrating Gaelic.

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