The Wigtown Festival Company—based in Wigtown, Scotland's National Book Town, in Dumfries and Galloway — is spearheading a drive to make the region a centre for literary tourism in the post-pandemic world.
Wigtown Festival has announced it is working with the Spot-lit project, which will support a series of business and organisations in realising innovative ideas that make the most of the town's links to famous writers and poets.
Spot-lit is an international project funded by the European Union and supported by the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme. Wigtown Festival Company is described as Spot-lit's driving force in Scotland.
The programme, delivered in conjunction with Business Tourism Solutions, provides financial investment as well as business mentoring.
Adrian Turpin, creative director of Wigtown Festival, said: "Spot-lit is allowing us to support innovative ideas from locally based businesses and cultural organisations at the very moment when we need to rebuild again. Holidays and short breaks with a focus on famous authors and stories are hugely popular, and people are increasingly interested in discovering contemporary writing and storytelling. Dumfries and Galloway has an abundance of both – as well as being home to Scotland’s National Book Town — so we hope Spot-lit will help establish the region as the country’s literary heartland."
One example of the new initiatives is being executed by The Mill on the Fleet visitor centre in Gatehouse of Fleet, which intends to create specialist literary themed tours. The Mill on the Fleet will use its past experience of setting up heritage trails and exhibitions to develop pilots after travel restrictions are lifted and people begin to look for interesting short breaks and holidays.
Ken Smyth, chair of The Mill on the Fleet, said: "Dorothy L Sayers wrote The Five Red Herrings while she was staying at the Anwoth Hotel – now The Ship Inn – and was quite exact in her descriptions, so you can easily identify many places she mentions. It would make a superb literary trail and the opportunity for guided tours – perhaps led by her detective, Lord Peter himself.”
Other businesses that will carry out the initiatives include Galloway Cycling Holidays, The Bookshop Band, Craigmount B&B, Mostly Ghost Tours, Dark Sky Pages, Webber's Wildlife Services and The Stove Network.
Ian Brannigan, Spot-lit partner and head of regional development for the Western Development Commission Ireland, said: “We are excited to see the development of the literary tourism capacity and partnering in Dumfries and Galloway. We believe it will enable real international co-operation amongst our creative businesses.”