Not many people are able to say that they can give others a ‘sense of who they are’, but this is exactly what tour guide and genealogist Ian Walker does for a living.

Dumfriesshire-born Ian stars in the latest Spirit of Scotland online film from VisitScotland in which he lifts the lid on the magic and “yearning” that attracts visitors from around the world to Scotland to trace their roots. These 90 second mini documentaries are being produced to celebrate the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Ian established his company, Borders Journeys, in 2011 but was struggling to decide whether to concentrate on the specialism of ancestral tourism or to broaden his focus to encompass Scottish tourism in general. He needed a clearer strategic vision for his company and, in particular, wanted to establish if there was a large enough market to merit him spending the majority of his time focusing on ancestral tourism.

Ian contacted Interface who put him in touch with Queen Margaret University (QMU). Funded by a £5,000 Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher, QMU conducted research into the ancestral tourism market in Scotland, estimating the market size, and looking at the characteristics of ancestral tourism within Scotland and with the Scottish dispora. Building on the project’s findings, Borders Journeys has built new relationships and contacts worldwide in the ancestral history and tourism market.

And the rest, they say, is history!

Read the Borders Journeys case study.