Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns is worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the nation each year, a new study has shown.
His name resonates around the world to this day and his words, in English or in Scots, endure in many nations.
And, more than two centuries after his death, the first major research of its kind has revealed his value to Scotland continues to grow.
A study undertaken by Glasgow University suggests Burns is worth £203 million in direct value to Scotland and almost £140 million in brand value.
It ran ran for a year and assessed how the worldwide fascination with him supports Scottish businesses and jobs.
In the last 20 years there have been a significant number of developments that have further served to increase the poet’s profile.
One of the most significant was the opening of the £23 million Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayr, which has helped transform the visitor experience.
And the new research also proposes ways in which Scotland could make even more out of its national bard, in economic and cultural terms.
They include improving signage on the M74 to better reflect Burns’ appeal and consideration by the new owners of Prestwick Airport to renaming it after Robert Burns.
Professor Pittock of the centre for Robert Burns studies at the university’s College of Arts said: “More than 250 years after his birth, Robert Burns, his life and work, still holds a huge fascination for a worldwide audience.
“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.”
Burns Night on January 25 celebrates the poet’s birthday and has a turnover of £11 million in Scotland.
The festivals held throughout the country have an estimated value of £7 million, while spending on Burns-related food and roughly generates £20 million.
Economy secretary Derek Mackay said: “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.”