Scottish tourism officials have played down suggestions that the release of the Lockerbie bomber could lead to an American travel boycott.
A website, boycottscotland.com, set up over the weekend describes the Scottish government’s decision to free Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi as “inexcusable” and recommends a moratorium on leisure and business travel.
The Scottish government said the decision to release the only man to be convicted of the Lockerbie bombing was made on compassionate grounds following claims that al-Megrahi has less than three months left to live having contracted terminal cancer.
However, the decision has been met with condemnation from the US, including President Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticising the release.
The outcry will be viewed as highly embarrassing as it comes in the middle of the Year of Homecoming, a Scottish government campaign aimed at attracting those with Scottish ancestry - mainly Americans - to visit the country of their roots.
The US is the biggest national tourism market for Scotland, making up 21 percent of overseas spend, or £260 million, last year.
Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, dismissed the campaign during a television interview yesterday, saying: “Many, many things appear in the blogosphere. What we are talking about is in the real world, and in the real world the relationship between Scotland and the United States is strong and enduring.”
But spokeswoman for VisitScotland said that the campaign had not had an adverse impact, with no cancellations so far, but she admitted that they were taking the threats seriously.
“We have contacts in the States and we are asking them to keep an eye out on what is happening. We understand that there is a lot of debate on websites and in the media, and that reactions are mixed - some people not happy but others are more balanced about it,” she told The Times.