Linlithgow businesses urged to take advantage of Outlander boom

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It’s the fantasy TV show which has taken America by storm and now businesses in Linlithgow and beyond are looking to capitalise on its popularity.

The hit US TV series is based on the books by author Diana Gabaldon and the story follows Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a World War II nurse, who is transported back to the 18th century where she encounters a Highland warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) around the time of the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland.

The episodes are filmed across a number of different locations in the area including Linlithgow Palace, Blackness Castle, Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway and Hopetoun House.

There are plenty more historic buildings that have been used across central Scotland which have also seen a surge in visitors from across the Atlantic, creating a tourism boom.

It perhaps hasn’t quite seen the same response amongst viewers in the UK with it being aired on Amazon Prime rather than mainstream TV, although that hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm amongst some local businesses.

Mary’s Meanders is a tour guide company from Linlithgow which specialises in organising Outlander tours and other tours around central Scotland.

It has enjoyed a visitor spin off from the time travel fantasy series.

Anne Daly, a tour guide for the business, said: “Outlander is absolutely massive. It can do for Scotland what Game of Thrones has done for Ireland.

“We got involved since they started filming around here and we were running tours at the time. We reached out to Outlandish UK – the UK Outlander fan group – and took some of them on tours and asked their advice as to what they would like.

“We’ve been running the film location tours since they came out and as they have grown we have grown.”

Historic Environment Scotland has said Outlander has had a “positive impact” on visitor numbers since it aired in 2013.

Blackness Castle alone has seen a 27 per cent increase in footfall, while Linlithgow Palace has also enjoyed a tourism boost.

It has caught the attention of local traders who are looking to enhance the experience of Outlander fans and ensure they enjoy themnselves during their visits.

On Tuesday, Linlithgow BID held an information meeting at the Burgh Halls for local businesses on how to take advantage of the surge in numbers.

Jenni Steele from Visit Scotland called it the “ripple effect” where other businesses like pubs, bars, shops and hotels in the area – who are not directly involved – should be looking to offer their services.

She said: “There is something for everyone. There are the battles, history, heritage and the romance as well. The US audience is very strong.

“It is mostly females over the age of 25 who will travel with their partners or with groups of friends. Some will like to immerse themselves in it, while some just a little bit.

“Scotland will have the benefit of Outlander for some time to come and there is no reason why local businesses can’t too.

For Mary’s Meanders the message is simple, Anne said: “Get involved. Your business could do anything. It could be gift shop, newsagents or an accomodation provider. You can get involved at the simplest level. Outlander fans are passionate and love nothing more than talking about it so be knowledgeable and know what it is about.”