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THE Year of Natural Scotland is a chance to celebrate Scotland’s reputation as a place of outstanding natural beauty, either on your own door step or exploring further afield.

In January CNN named Scotland as the top travel choice for 2013, emphasizing the Year of Natural Scotland.

This initiative aims to make people aware of how we collectively make the most of our nation’s natural assets – from harnessing vast natural reserves of wind, wave and tidal power to creating world-class cuisine from delicious seasonal and local ingredients.

Scotland has a range of world class natural assets for Scots and visitors to enjoy. 2013 will be a year in which people in Scotland and visitors discover – or, indeed, rediscover - the natural attraction of our country and continue to build on the momentum created by the previous Focus Years.

The Year of Natural Scotland is the next of the Scottish Government’s Focus Years, following Food and Drink, Active Scotland and Creative Scotland, showcasing some of the best known tourism assets prior to the second Year of Homecoming Scotland in 2014.

Events are taking place the length and breadth of the country to encourage everyone to celebrate Scotland’s great outdoors.

The event programme is being added to all the time - to find out what’s going on visit www.eventscotland.org/natural.

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: “The Year of Natural Scotland provides us with an excellent opportunity to make the most of Scotland’s magnificent natural heritage and increase visitor numbers in the process.

“I am encouraging everyone at home and abroad to discover or rediscover Scotland by getting out and seeing some of our world renowned scenery, wildlife and other natural attractions which will boost business and enhance both the local and national economies.

“Tourism attractions across the country can get involved by using the toolkit which is available on VisitScotland’s website and by thinking now about how they can make the most of this opportunity.

“The Focus Years have been a great success and together we can build on this success for the Year of Natural Scotland and keep the momentum going for the second year of Homecoming in 2014 when Scotland will take centre stage hosting The Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.”