Renowned poet Robert Burns worth £203m annually to Scotland

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ollie Rudden
Deputy News Editor

A new study has found that Scottish poet Robert Burns is worth £203m annually to Scotland.

Research carried out by the University of Glasgow shows the world-renowned poet brings in £203m to the Scottish economy and has a brand worth of £120m annually worldwide.

The Scottish Government-funded study by professor Murray Pittock from the Centre for Robert Burns Studies analysed the worldwide interest of Robert Burns in supporting business and jobs.

There have been previous studies regarding the economic and cultural importance of Robert Burns to Scotland, however this is the first project carried out on such a large scale.

Some of his work includes the famous New Year anthem Auld Lang Syne and poem To a Mouse, which became the source material for John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

Professor Pittock stated: “More than 250 years after his birth, Robert Burns, his life and work, still holds a huge fascination for a worldwide audience.

“Burns has universal appeal with his work being translated into every single major language including Russian, German, French and Chinese. Auld Lang Syne is our New Year anthem and has been performed by everyone from Elvis Presley to Jimi Hendrix.

“We are very fortunate to have such an iconic Scottish figure like Burns. We have been able to put a value of over £200m on the tourism, products, festivals and estimate an additional embedded brand value of almost £140m which Burns brings to Scotland. What it shows is that ‘Burns the Brand’ makes a huge contribution to the economy of Scotland.

“We hope that our research will help to inform and encourage Scotland to continue to develop plans to promote Burns at home and abroad. It also shows the great potential of Burns’ brand to support regional inclusive growth from hotels and restaurants to food, drink and memorabilia.”

Economy Secretary Derek Mackay stated: “I welcome this report and the work conducted by professor Pittock to explore the contribution of Robert Burns to the Scottish economy.

“It goes without saying that the cultural and societal importance of ‘Burns the Brand’ is enormous. In fact, the report highlights that the values and identity of Robert Burns — the lover of nature, the innovator, and the humanitarian — resonate with the identity of modern Scotland.”

Robert Burns’ importance to the culture and economy of Scotland has been made of use in the last 20 years, such as the opening of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in 2009 at a cost of £23m.

Scotland is also second to London regarding culture and heritage tourism in the UK, with the Burns Birthplace Museum second only to Shakespeare in UK writers’ museums.

Burns Night, the celebration of the poet’s birth, takes place on 25 January and has a turnover of £11m in Scotland.