Scots star Sam Heughan praises the Outlander Effect

Outlander star Sam Heughan has spoken about how Outlander has changed his life – and how it has helped Scotland.

Sam Heughan spoke exclusively to XpoNorth on the ‘Outlander Effect’, which has brought thousands of visitors – and millions of pounds – to Scotland.

Sam spoke following author Diana Gabaldon’s Tourism Award win, and how XpoNorth 2019 is helping Scotland embrace the Outlander effect in Inverness this July 3 and 4.

As Outlander author Diana Gabaldon this week received an International Contribution to Scottish Tourism award at the Scottish Thistle awards, VisitScotland announced how places used in the TV adaptation of her fantasy novels have seen meteoric visitor numbers rise, in some cases like Doune Castle by 226.5%.

Actor Sam , who plays lead character Jamie Fraser (click here to read our exclusive interview), gave an exclusive comment to XpoNorth creative industries festival organisers: ‘Outlander has not just changed my life completely, it’s hugely affected Scotland too, seeing our culture and heritage reach internationally and celebrated around the world.

‘I first met my character Jamie Fraser six years ago when asked to audition for the TV adaptation. Little did I realise how popular and widely read Diana’s books are, or I may have been more nervous! I’ve seen thousands of fans each year, travel to Scotland, visit our locations and try to immerse themselves in our world in any way possible.

‘Not just tourism and merchandise, Outlanders fans have helped fund numerous Charity projects, fitness programs, musicians, Gaelic language courses, film funding, community gatherings, even building restoration.

‘I’ve seen a film studio flourish in the centre of Scotland, complete with workshops, several sound stages, edit suits and an impressive costuming department, employing huge numbers of local staff and benefiting local businesses. I think we grossly underestimate how much influence and enterprise Diana Gabaldon has brought to us, placing the spotlight on our country and celebrating our culture. Not only that, she has written some devilishly good characters and really enthralling books. Keep writing Diana, and thank you.’

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: ‘The impact of Outlander on Scotland has been truly extraordinary.’

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser (Photo: Starz)

Jeni Oliver of Highlands & Islands Enterprise added: ‘This is a statement that we completely agree with here at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and within the XpoNorth team particularly as we prepare for our first Panel set to help people learn how best to embrace the Outlander effect in July 2019.’

XpoNorth which takes place this 3 and 4 July at Eden Court Theatre and Cinema in Inverness, is Scotland’s leading creative industries festival attracting over 2000 delegates, and a whole host of globally renowned and international speakers who get involved and support audiences from across Scotland, including giving many one to one and small business group advice sessions.

The festival will be looking at Film Tourism specifically in a session called The Outlander Effect. 2017 saw a record number of tourists to Scotland with a 17% rise in visitors and 23% rise in spend. The phenomenal growth in visitors can be connected to the hit TV series and book, Outlander.

From Local Hero, Highlander, Harry Potter and Skyfall through to The Outlaw King, Scotland has a track record of successful screen tourism. This panel session will discuss the benefits and opportunities, and how to maximise the Outlander effect.

Festival manager and programmer Alex Smith said: ‘We want to help creative industries understand how they too can benefit from this enormous opportunity we have in Scotland.

‘We’ve managed to organise really strong panellists for this who can talk people through their unique experience and knowledge of what happens behind the scenes, and what people can do themselves to ensure they share in the incredible author’s saga’s ongoing legacy.’

Chair of the Panel will be Scotland’s top expert on the project Jenni Steele, Film and Creative Industries Manager at VisitScotland; sharing the stage with Audrey Jones, New Business and Film, Historic Environment Scotland who manage many of the sites used in the filming; Bonnie Edgecombe of Abbyshot; and Tracy Milton of Kingsmills Hotel.

Please register to attend via www.xponorth.co.uk