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Scotland's tourism facts

Loch Brandy - Credit Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam

Tourism industry in Scotland

Latest stats and facts on Scotland's tourism industry. Published April 2019.

Tourism spend worth £11.2bn 

Tourism is an important underpinning and vibrant sector for the Scottish economy.

2017 saw 166 million trips (international, domestic overnight and domestic day trips) taken, generating over £11.2 billion in expenditure. This represented a 6% increase in trips during 2017 compared to 2016 and 17% growth in spend.

International visitor spend was £2.3 billion during 3.2 million total trips in 2017. Europe provided the largest single market area for visitors to Scotland with 1.9 million visitors or 59% of all international visitors in 2017.

North American visitors totalled 681,000 trips spending £646 million, a 13.4% increase in visitors with a modest 0.9% growth in spend.

Visitors from "other countries" including Australia, New Zealand, China and India, also grew in 2017. They accounted for 638,000 trips and £496 million spend. That's a growth of 21.0% trips and 31.5% spend.

Holidays were the most popular reason for both domestic and international visitors to come to Scotland.

Young travellers at Pittenweem Harbour. Location shoot with Channel 4 and VisitScotland in an interactive campaign for E4. Credit Visit Scotlanbd/Kenny Lam

Scottish tourism stats

14,540 companies

8.2% of Scotland's total companies (2018)

206,000 employment

8.0% of Scotland's total employment (2017)

£3.9bn GVA

2.9% of Scotland's GVA (2016)

Edinburgh Castle attracted record visitor numbers in 2017, bringing more than two million people through its doors.

Positive growth 

2017 was also another strong year for Scottish hotels, with RevPAR and occupancy levels having increased in the main cities across the country.

Strong markets in Scotland’s leading cities drive year round occupancy, and high room rates in Glasgow and Edinburgh mean that demand for additional accommodation – particularly 4-star and above – point to significant opportunities for providers, developers and investors.

2017 visitor attraction figures showed exceptional performance across Scotland. Visitor numbers to both Edinburgh Castle and the National Museum of Scotland reached record highs, each bringing more than two million people through their doors.

Collectively, all of these statistics are painting a very positive picture of growth for the sector.

 

Company insight

Tourism companies surveyed between January and March 2019
Performance last 6 months
  • 54% reported increased turnover
  • 31% reported improved profitability
Expectations next 6 months
  • 15% expect to grow exports
  • 54% expect to add staff
V&A Dundee - Photo credit Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam

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