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Whatever happens in next year's referendum on Scottish independence the land North of the Border has already beaten England in the travel stakes. Lonely Planet this week declared that Bonnie Scotland was the third most desirable place to visit in the entire world. Top of the list was Brazil, and coming in at second place was Antarctica. Yorkshire, to be fair, did make it into the league as a recommended destination for travellers in 2014.

So what do the Lonely Planet people love so much about the Highlands and Lowlands? Well, they say that the country has never looked so good, which is excellent timing, as next year it will play host to two major sporting events, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and the Ryder Cup. Edinburgh was singled out for rave reviews, it was called "the most gothic city" – outside of Transylvania that is, and they wax poetical about the scenery that so inspired the national bard, Robbie Burns, imploring tourists to "take the high road" and not to miss Loch Ness, Loch Lomond or the beauties of the Cairngorm National Park. The latter has already been singled out for attention by National Geographic magazine earlier in the year, which put it in their "50 Place To See Before You Die" list.

Scotland's Tourism industry will be delighted with their boost to their profile as they prepare for an influx of visitors in 2014 and a place in the spotlight. The "buzzing cities" and "stunning scenery" have always been drawcards to the North, with the West Coast and its many islands another much-loved area. Many are inspired to join in the New Year celebrations in the home of Hogmanay, with Edinburgh's famous street party along Princes Street now a full-scale spectacular, with world class bands playing and astounding fireworks. It is just as popular in the summer months with the hugely successful Edinburgh Festival and Fringe. Glasgow has its own claims to fame, being the home of the wonderful Burrell Collection and a former European City of Culture.

Those who claim Scottish roots will warm to the theme of "The Year of Homecoming" set for 2014, with celebrations planned for all aspects of the national way of life, culture and unique traditions. Visit Scotland's Chief, Mike Cantly, has welcomed the recommendations from Lonely Planet and added: "this could be the greatest ever chance for our country to be seen as a globally recognized, must-see destination." He hopes the effects will be felt for years to come.

With accommodation available in everything from a Castle to a Croft, Scotland is also the only country in the UK that allows wild camping without a permit, so there genuinely is something to suit every budget. Scottish cuisine is also well worth sampling. Far from the clichés of deep fried Mars bars and haggis, there is now a thriving artisanal foodie scene, with local and seasonal ingredients like langoustines and venison top of many menus. It is also a wonderful place to buy craft, woollens and of course, not to be forgotten, fine malt whisky.

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