6% Rise In Visitors To Scotland

18 May 2017, 12:00 | Updated: 18 May 2017, 12:01


Tourists from the US and Canada visiting Scotland rose almost a fifth in a year, helping drive a 6% increase in overseas visitors, new figures show.

The number of overseas visits to Scotland rose by 155,000 in 2016 compared with 2015, according to a report from the Office for National Statistics.

An 18% increase in North American visitors year-on-year boosted the rising tourist numbers.

Visitors from overseas spent an extra £155 million during their stay, a rise of 9% compared with the previous year.

Scotland's tourism industry grew faster than the UK as a whole between 2015 and 2016.

Inbound overseas tourism UK-wide increased 4% year on year and expenditure rose by 2%.

The figures show Edinburgh was the most popular city with overseas overnight visitors to the UK outside of London.

Glasgow was the sixth most popular with these visitors while Inverness was in twelfth place and Aberdeen at number 19.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "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.

"We have seen an 18% 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.

"Our overseas visitors spent #1.85 billion in 2016, a 9% 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.''

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said TV series Outlander helped attract North American visitors.

He said: "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.

"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.''

He said the industry is on track to hit a target to grow tourist revenues by #1 billion to 2020.