Europeans push tourist spend to record £2.3bn

The number of overseas tourists visiting Scotland rose 16.9% to a record 3.2 million in 2017 and their expenditure increased by 23% to a record £2.3 billion, according to ONS Travel Trends statistics.

The record figures were driven by European visitors who made 1.9 million visits to Scotland, a 17% increase from 2016, with spending rising by 36% to £1.1 billion.

Across the UK as a whole, the number of European visitors increased by 1% and spending fell by 1%.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “These figures show 2017 was a record year for overseas tourists visiting and spending money in Scotland, which is great news for the industry and our economy.

“Tourism is one of our most important industries, employing 207,000 people, creating jobs, supporting the local economy and building on our strong international reputation.

“As we get closer to the UK’s departure from the EU, we will continue to do all we can to ensure people from across the EU and elsewhere are welcome to work in our tourism sector and visit our beautiful, vibrant country.”

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said: “Today’s figures herald a remarkable period for Scottish tourism, with overseas visits in 2017 reaching a record high.

“These outstanding results show that Scotland can compete on a global stage.

“Using our unrivalled beauty, rich history, pioneering partnerships and innovative thinking we are communicating with visitors from every corner of the world.

“Groundbreaking apps, creative digital campaigns and inspirational content means we can reach visitors and potential visitors at every step of their journey, informing the visitors of today and inspiring the visitors of tomorrow.

“Tourism is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy, causing a ripple effect which touches every industry and community, creating employment and economic growth.

“Buoyed by the success of today’s figures we look forward to continue working with our partnerships across every aspect of the tourism industry to make sure Scotland is at the top of everyone’s list to live and work, invest, study and visit.”