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Edinburgh dreamin’

Press release   •   May 30, 2017 09:47 BST

Edinburgh skyline from Calton Hill. Photo by VisitScotland.

Many holidaymakers come to Edinburgh because it is a city they have always longed to visit, according to VisitScotland’s biggest ever Visitor Survey.

Carried out in the summers of 2015 and 2016, the national tourism organisation’s poll saw 1391 visitors to the Capital interviewed, with 1053 of these answering specific questions about their visit to the area in a follow-up survey online.

Exactly half (50 per cent) of respondents stated they had always wanted to visit the city, when asked what attracted them to the Capital, which was more than three times the national average (15 per cent).

Edinburgh’s fascinating history and rich culture led the way as the biggest draw to the city (65 percent), while its landscape and scenery (61 per cent) followed close behind. Two-fifths (40 per cent) said enjoying a specific attraction was a key driver in their decision to visit, which was five times more than the national average (9 per cent). Edinburgh Castle and the Fringe festival were mentioned most.

Visitors to the Capital gave positive ratings of their holiday experience, with 92 per cent giving scores of 7-10 on the satisfaction scale, and 64 per cent gave the highest ratings of nine or ten out of ten.

Holidaymakers also expressed a high likelihood to recommend Edinburgh to friends or family, with 93 per cent scoring it between 7-10 and 64 per cent selecting nine or ten out of ten.

Sightseeing by car, coach or on foot was the most popular activity, with 77 per cent of respondents citing this as a reason to visit. In second spot was visiting a historic house, stately home or castle (73 per cent), while visiting a cathedral, church, abbey and other religious buildings was enjoyed by 65 per cent. All of these activities were enjoyed in Edinburgh at a higher proportion than the national average.

Manuela Calchini, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “With nearly 12,000 visitors all over the country interviewed, this is the biggest Scotland Visitor Survey we have ever produced. I am delighted, but not surprised, to see that so many people rate their trips to Edinburgh so highly. Finding out what drives people to enjoy a holiday in the city provides the tourism industry with valuable insight into the makeup of our visitors and ensure we continue to provide the best customer experience.”

According to the GB Tourism Survey and International Passenger Survey, Edinburgh welcomed over four million overnight visitors in 2015, with 38 per cent of these from overseas. The top overseas markets were the USA, Germany, France Spain and Australia while, overall, visitors spent £1.46 billion while on holiday in the region.

To read the full Scotland Visitor Survey, go to  


Notes to Editors

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  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • To ensure everyone can safely enjoy Scotland’s amazing countryside and landscapes, VisitScotland encourages all visitors to fully respect their surroundings by behaving in a responsible and appropriate way.
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP
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  • 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017