This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Opening windows on the past
A new website which helps and encourages people to trace ancestry and Scottish roots is launched simultanously in Glasgow and New York today.
At the same time the data from the 1901 Census in Scotland has been made available online, at www.origins.net, providing a linked and comprehensive one-stop internet guide to tracing family history.
The www.ancestralscotland.com is designed to stimulate interest in and encourage visits to Scotland from UK and overseas markets. There are an estimated 28 million expatriate Scots and close descendants world wide - a group which includes 61 per cent of American presidents.
For the very first time it will be possible to enter a place name, parish name or even a surname and find out where your family will have come from, what their life might have been like then and how Scotland has developed since.
Online examples will show visitors how to go about tracing their ancestry, describe the origins of names and clans, as well as identifying places to visit and linking into accommodation sites.
Tourism and Culture Minister Mike Watson said:
"In attracting those with Scottish ancestors to visit Scotland ancestralscotland.com supplies an essential package. Providing not only the ancestral details, but also marketing what Scotland has to offer - the culture, vibrant cities, friendly people and an outstanding natural landscape.
"The opportunity for Scotland to benefit from this growth is huge and a major opportunity to attract the estimated 28 million expatriate Scots and close descendants around the world to trace their roots and visit their origins.
"This is a one-stop shop for those eager to trace their roots and gain a sense of where they came from. Today I have done just that. It was fascinating, I would encourage everyone to do the same. Not only look into your family ancestry but bring it to life and by re-visiting your history."
Genealogy was one of three main niche markets identified in A New Strategy for Scottish Tourism confirmed in February 2000. The other two markets were culture and golf.
The website launch took place today at the Glen Lee Tall Ship on the River Clyde, coinciding with a launch in New York with Ayrshire-born supermodel Kirsty Hume. Toronto will host another launch tomorrow, while the web portal will also be strongly marketed in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
VisitScotland will follow up this launch with energetic marketing to keep the awareness of the website at a high level culminating at the Tartan Day celebrations on 6 April in New York.