North American tourists spend record £633m

Spending by North American visitors to Scotland rose 28% to a record £633 million in the 12 months to the end of September 2016, according to new figures.

The weak pound helped drive visitor numbers from North America up 14% over the 12 months.

There was an overall 6.3% increase in international tourist spending — and a 0.3% increase in visits — in Scotland in the 12 months to September.

Although there was a 7% drop in European markets, the majority of international visits to Scotland still come from Europe.

In the July to September quarter, overseas visits increased 4.5% and overseas spend went up 13.9%.

In the nine months to September, overseas visits increased 3.5% and overseas spend increased 11.8%.

VisitScotland chief executive, Malcolm Roughead said: “It is remarkable to see such unparalleled growth in the North American market in both visits and spend.

“Of course, a favourable exchange rate has played its part, but a focus on airline capacity and connectivity — with around 90,000 extra seats on services from North America in 2016 — alongside a concentrated marketing approach has proved a real formula for success.

“It is disappointing to see a slight dip in European visits from core markets such as France and Germany, but with uncertainty over safety and security during 2016 in these countries, it is perhaps understandable.

“However, it’s interesting to see a significant rise of 48% from our Eastern European markets.

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience — it creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round.”