(EDINBURGH, Scotland) — Never mind the historic castles, rolling countryside, famous lochs, St. Andrews golf course, renowned culinary dishes and the fact that England’s royal family loves to vacation there.
When it comes to promoting itself as a tourist destination, Scotland is relying on two four-legged creatures named Fivla and Vitamin to draw visitors in.
And it’s not even dressing the Shetland ponies in the country’s native kilts or putting bagpipes nearby. No, Scotland’s tourism board is outfitting them in cardigans.
The dressing of the ponies marked the launch of the “Year of Natural Scotland” campaign undertaken by Scotland’s National Tourism Organization to encourage people to “Come and celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty throughout 2013,” according to its website.
Fivla and Vitamin have been dubbed “pony ambassadors” to help promote the campaign, which features a year’s worth of activities and insider tips on exploring Scotland’s natural beauty.
“We were looking for a photo which encapsulated Scotland’s stunning natural landscapes, highlighted somewhere a little off the beaten track, and included some true Scottish locals,” a spokesperson told ABC News.
“Shetland, and in particular Shetland ponies, instantly sprang to mind,” the spokesperson said.
The ponies are dressed in jumpers created from Shetland wool and created specifically for them by local knitter Doreen Brown, notes the caption accompanying the series of photos of the pair online.
“It also seemed fitting to incorporate natural products that Shetland produces, and with Shetland wool and knitwear being so in demand, it seemed like a fun way to celebrate Shetlands natural landscapes, products and heritage and focus on these islands to help us promote the ‘Year of Natural Scotland,’” according to the spokesperson.
Fivla, a 17-year-old white pony, and 18-year-old Vitamin, cared for by Frances Taylor and Jo Tonkinson, were quite comfortable in their Shetland surroundings.
“Its safe to say both Fivla and Vitamin didn’t seem to mind all the attention their custom made attire brought them,” the website says.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN