Increase in visitors to Scotland boosted by influx of North American tourists

North American tourists flocking to Scotland in ever increasing numbers have helped create a surge in overseas visitors to the country.

New figures reveal Scotland experienced a 6 percent surge in foreign tourism in 2016 – that’s a rise of 155,000 overseas visits on the previous year. Much of the increase has been credited to an influx of tourists from the USA and Canada.

Photograph by: David MonniauxEdinburgh Castle

The latest data from the Office of National Statistics says visitors from overseas spent an extra £155 million during their stay – an increase of 9 percent compared with 2015.

The rise in tourism to Scotland has outstripped figures for the UK as a whole which recorded a 4 percent increase in overseas visits and a 2 percent increase in expenditure.

Top destination for tourists to Scotland was Edinburgh, which was ranked the second most popular city with overseas visitors to the UK, while Glasgow was in sixth place.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop welcomed the figures as a boost for the national economy and proof that Scotland is an increasingly popular destination for visitors from around the world.

“These figures underline Scotland’s appeal as a world-class tourism destination and are a credit to our tourism industry’s hard work to attract and welcome more than 2.7 million overseas visitors last year,” she said.

“We have seen an 18 per cent increase in the number of visits from North America and welcomed more than 1.6 million visitors from across Europe, highlighting the strength of our connections with the US and our neighbours on the continent.

Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow

“Our overseas visitors spent £1.85 billion in 2016, a 9 percent increase on the previous year and a welcome boost for our tourism and hospitality sectors and wider economy.

“We are committed to working with VisitScotland and the tourism sector to build further on Scotland’s reputation as a must visit, must return destination.”

Her comments were echoed by VisitScotland Chief Executive, Malcolm Roughead.

”Overall, 2016 was a very positive year for Scottish tourism, with these figures showing that there is a huge appetite among overseas visitors to explore Scotland,” he said.

“A growing interest in ancestral tourism, which in part has been fuelled by the success of the hit television series Outlander, as well as increased airline capacity, has continued to see visitors from North America coming here in large numbers.

“As revealed in our largest ever Visitor Survey, our stunning landscapes, our history and our culture remain key reasons to enjoy a holiday in Scotland, but it is also recognised as the perfect place to ‘get away from it all’, while many visitors also rate their experience here as ‘a perfect 10’.

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round. Thanks to the hard work of tourism businesses across the country, we are on track to reach the industry’s Tourism Scotland 2020 target to generate economic growth.”

Growth from North America can be attributed to an increase in airline capacity between North America and Scotland, with airlines such as Delta, Icelandair, Air Canada Rouge, Air Transit and WOW contributing a further 90,000 seats throughout 2016.

Similarly, Scotland could now be reaping the benefits of the three routes into Scotland via the Middle East which are attracting visitors from the rest of the world.