2012 was the year that Scotland took centre stage like never before and tourism shone as a major economic force. But 2012 has also been a challenging one - we've had to dig deep against the continuing global downturn and even the weather has conspired against us this summer. But when the going gets tough the tough get selling!
This year saw VisitScotland partner with Disney•Pixar's beautifully crafted film, Brave, to showcase Scotland in 72 countries, saw the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics showcase our fantastic warm welcome and the Year of Creative Scotland brought together the tourism and creative industries in a unique partnership of artistic talent.
As the winning years hit the halfway mark, the eyes of the world are turning towards Scotland as we build up to 2014 and one of the biggest opportunities tourism has ever seen.
And as those eyes focus on this country, every man, woman and child has to play a part in making sure that people not only want to come here for an eventful year, but also want to come back because they've had an out of this world experience.
This is the year that Scotland prepares - prepares for two of the biggest sporting events in the world, prepares to welcome visitors home for Homecoming Scotland and the industry prepares to play its part in boosting Scotland's visitor economy.
The Olympics had its games makers - we need an army of "tartan trailblazers" - to showcase Scotland like never before, to create a pride and commitment in ensuring that every visitor to Scotland has the best possible experience and goes home with stories of the best service, the best welcome and the best memories. We've a world class product - now it's time for a first class welcome.
The Olympics proved the catalyst to making Londoners see the value of tourism and they went out of their way to create a more friendly and welcoming environment. We are already seen as the place to be if you want to meet warm and friendly people in an authentic manner - but we can all strive to do better, to instill a pride that will endure once these events are over and for everyone to understand that tourism is significant for the economy of Scotland. This is not a time for modesty - it's time to show the world what we are made of and that Scotland can deliver the best show on earth.
Just consider the scale of the opportunity - the Ryder Cup will come to Gleneagles with a £100million economic benefit predicted and Glasgow will play host to the Commonwealth Games with one million tickets on offer. Add to that the chance to put the spotlight on a range of Scottish iconic events and our USPs - from whisky to creativity - throughout the year and to encourage people who love Scotland to "come home" and we have a winning formula.
Our vision is a world class tourism experience and, as we look to 2014 as the pinnacle of the winning years - three years and eight great milestones, from Brave to the final days of Homecoming - we see a bright future for Scottish tourism. Yes, the economic backdrop is hard, and the summer has been wet, but we have a world-class product and we have world class tourism businesses which can bring economic growth across Scotland.
I would like to add to this my sincere thanks to Team Scotland - our partners who have helped to raise the profile of tourism this year - and especially the staff at VisitScotland who amaze me with their talent, commitment and hard work on a daily basis. They understand the stakes are high for Scottish tourism and consistently deliver incredible results. My thanks also to my fellow Board members for their continuing support.
So let's prepare for 2014, let's ensure that Scotland shines and that every visitor wants to come back time and time again. This year has been fantastic - but the next two could be beyond all expectations - are you ready to join the journey?