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Record year for overseas visitors

Press Release   •   Jul 20, 2018 13:42 BST

Dunnottar Castle credit:VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

Visits and spending by overseas tourists in Scotland rose to its highest level on record in 2017.

The ONS Travel Trends 2017 statistics showed the number of overseas tourists visiting Scotland rose by 16.9% to 3.2 million, while expenditure increased by 23% to £2.3 billion.

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%.

A range of factors made Scotland an attractive place to visit in 2017 including events associated with the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, the Outlander effect and VisitScotland digital activity.

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."

The figures are available to view and are the highest for overseas tourists since the survey began in 1961/62.

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 five overarching strategies: Marketing, Events, Quality and Sustainability, Inclusive Tourism, International Engagement.
  • 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
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com
  • For information about business tourism in Scotland go to www.conventionscotland.com

2018 Year of Young People

  • The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally
  • Central to YoYP 2018 will be a celebratory events programme that puts young people at the heart of its development and delivery, creating new and valuable experiences for young Scots and the wider public, with links to the inaugural 2018 European Championships.
  • Over 200 young people throughout Scotland are currently being recruited to become YoYP 2018 Ambassadors. Ambassadors will ensure that people and organisations in their communities know about what’s happening and will lead on projects and activities to create events and opportunities to celebrate young people.
  • The Year of Young People will have six themes which were developed in co-production with young people themselves:
  • Participation – looking at how young people can influence public services and decisions which affect their lives
  • Education – creating a stronger role for young people in shaping their learning
  • Health and Wellbeing – supporting young people to lead healthier, active lives and have opportunities to learn about and improve their mental health and resilience
  • Equality and Discrimination – broadcasting the value of young Scots, challenging negative perceptions of young people, and supporting young people to take leading roles in challenging discrimination in all its forms.
  • Enterprise and regeneration – celebrating young people’s role in innovation, entrepreneurship and the Scottish economy as well as making Scotland a greener and more pleasant place to live
  • Culture – celebrating young people’s talent and contribution to Scottish culture and arts.
  • Further information on what’s happening and how people can get involved can be found on the new website www.yoyp2018.scot or @YOYP2018 on Twitter.