International visitors spend record amount in Scotland

Edinburgh's Princes Street

International tourism in Scotland is recovering at a stronger rate than other UK nations and regions, new figures from the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) have revealed.

Covering July to September 2023, the latest ONS quarterly figures for the International Passenger Survey (IPS) show 1,438,000 visits to Scotland from international visitors, an increase of 6% on the same period in 2022 and a rise of more than a 14% on quarter three in 2019.

Over the summer months, international visitors to Scotland spent a record £1.5 billion — up 6% on the same quarter in 2022 — with an average spend per trip of £1,041.

When adjusted for inflation, this means that in real terms, visitor spend in that period was up by 16% from quarter three in 2019.

In total, 13.5 million nights were spent in Scotland by inbound visitors during the quarter, up 17% vs Q3 2022 and 25% on Q3 2019.

The main purpose of trips for international visitors travelling to Scotland last summer was holidays, making up 66% of visits and 76% of spend.

European visitors were responsible for just over half of all trips to Scotland during that period, followed by North American visitors.

Scotland was the only UK region to record an increase in visitors from North America last summer.

VisitScotland CEO Malcolm Roughead said: “Today’s figures are further evidence of the indisputable allure of Scotland for international visitors.

“Increased connectivity, favourable exchange rates and pent-up demand have all helped bring more holidaymakers to our shores.

“Our overseas visitors stay longer and spend more, which in turn supports the visitor economy. They are a crucial market for our industry, particularly while domestic visitors adjust to the impact of the cost of living.

“For the first three quarters of 2023, Scotland has enjoyed a strong recovery, but we cannot be complacent.

“We must continue building that demand, especially across key markets such as the US, Europe and the UK; inspiring visitors at those all-important planning stages and reaching them through the channels we know they use.

“While we all continue to navigate the challenging economic landscape, our priority is to use our marketing, partnership work, and business support activities to grow appetite for Scotland from all visitors – near and far – and make Scotland a year-round, must-visit destination.”