International tourists visiting Scotland spent more than £500 million in the second quarter of the year for the first time — even though the overall number of visitors fell 7.5% in that period — according to figures published today.
Overseas visitors spent £540 million in the second quarter of 2016 compared to £493 million in the same period in 2015.
This was the highest spend for the second quarter ever recorded.
For the first half of the year as a whole, the number of overseas visits increased 2.6% and the overseas spend increased 9.3%.
Visitors from Europe spent £276 million in the quarter up to June 2016, more than half of the overseas expenditure during this period.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “It is encouraging that overseas tourists are spending more when they visit Scotland.
“These figures highlight the hard work undertaken by our industry to make Scotland a must-visit destination.
“Scotland is famed for its warm welcome and these figures prove that visitors are prepared to come here to enjoy our incredible views, top class attractions and to spend in our hotels, shops and restaurants.
“External factors, such as difficult trading conditions and the economic uncertainty caused in the run up to the EU referendum, continue to present challenges for our tourism sector in a competitive international market.
“However, our industry, which employs 217,000 people is resilient and continues to thrive.”
VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “It is positive to see that Scottish tourism is continuing to perform well in the first half of 2016 with an increase in both visits and spend year on year.
“And the news that, in the second quarter of the year, international visitors have broken through the £500 million spend barrier for the first time ever is truly extraordinary.
“In a period of global political and economic issues and uncertainties, it is heartening to see that Scotland has been able to enjoy continued growth and we must credit all those who work hard in the industry day in and day out to ensure our country stays high on visitors’ ‘must experience’ list.
“With greater airline connectivity than ever before, award-winning food and drink, outstanding accommodation and exciting new attractions, things are looking remarkably good for Scottish tourism, but we cannot afford to be complacent in such unpredictable times.
“We must continue to invest, improve, and innovate to ensure we are resilient and that we remain integral to the Scottish economy.”