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The friendly nation

Press Release   •   Mar 10, 2016 13:38 GMT

New research by VisitScotland has shown that the people of Scotland play a more integral role than ever before in the tourist experience.

The Scotland Visitor Survey, the biggest of its kind produced by the national tourism organisation, reveals that 82% of visitors agree that local people add to the holiday experience.

The top five words used to describe people met in Scotland by visitors were, ‘friendly’ (50%), ‘helpful’ (25%), ‘welcoming’ (12%), ‘nice’ (6%) and ‘warm’ (5%).

Visitors also said the people of Scotland were an important source of information for things to see and do during their stay with half (49%) talking to local people for advice and a further third (34%) visiting a VisitScotland Information Centre for guidance.

While landscape and scenery remains the number one reason why people visit Scotland (49%) and history and culture the second (32%), Scotland’s reputation for friendly people was cited by 15% as a major draw.

Climate, perhaps surprisingly, also featured in the list of top reasons why visitors choose Scotland, with 5 percent of travelling to Scottish shores to enjoy the weather.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • Nine out of ten visitors would recommend Scotland as a holiday destination
  • Almost half (47%) used when planning their holiday online, second only to Google
  • Free Wi-Fi was the third highest factor in choosing accommodation (28%)
  • Over half (57%) visited a historic house, stately home or castle during their trip
  • Almost half (45%) rated their holiday experience in Scotland as 10 out of 10
  • More than half (59%) felt the quality of activities they experienced exceeded their expectations
  • Two thirds (66%) felt they had an existing connection with Scotland
  • Six out of ten visitors felt Scotland is a country worth visiting more than once

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said:

"Scotland's people are its greatest asset, especially in an industry like tourism where - as this survey shows - our warm welcome, and friendly approach, have helped to define and enrich the experiences of thousands of visitors across the length and breadth of the country.

"The latest survey highlights the huge draw of Scotland's jaw-dropping scenery, our vibrant culture and rich history, while also confirming the important role that everybody, from those in the industry to passers-by in the street, plays in ensuring all our visitors leave with fond memories, having enjoyed their stay to the utmost.

"This truly is the Spirit of Scotland and the fact that nine out of ten visitors surveyed would recommend our country as a holiday destination, highlights the substantial potential for yet further growth, and provides further inspiration for everyone in the industry to keep working together to ensure our tourism offering is the very best that it can be."

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said:

“The world renowned Scottish welcome is as warm as it has ever been and it’s no surprise to see the spirit of Scotland’s people continue to play a leading role in the visitor experience.

“Although our stunning scenery and unique history remain the biggest draws for visitors, from locals giving directions to tourists in the street to those working in the industry day to day, the people of Scotland play their own vital role in the success story of Scottish tourism.

“This type of research is vitally important to VistScotland and the wider industry to ensure we know who our visitors are and where they get their information. It also helps us produce unique, targeted campaigns such as our current global campaign, the ‘Spirit of Scotland’.

The Scotland Visitor Survey follows the launch of VisitScotland’s first ever global campaign and social movement which aims to raise the spirit and profile of Scotland to the highest it has ever been in history by igniting the power of a nation behind tourism.

The national tourism organisation launched its first ever global campaign and social movement – the ‘Spirit of Scotland’ last month. The campaign is built on extensive research which shows that people think Scotland has a unique spirit – whether it’s the magic of the landscapes or the warmth of the people.

Everyone who has shared their #ScotSpirit will become part of a special social movement. To find our more, visit

Top ten words used to describe people met in Scotland:

  • Friendly – 50%
  • Helpful – 25%
  • Welcoming – 12%
  • Nice – 6%
  • Warm – 5%
  • Interested – 3%
  • Kind – 3%
  • Open – 3%
  • Happy – 2%
  • Fun – 2%

Scottish Tourism Week 2016 takes place from 11 March - 18 March. A week-long series of conferences, seminars, business breakfasts, lunches and receptions will be delivered across Scotland as part of the Connecting 2020 Roadshow, concluding with the two day Signature Programme which will take place at Edinburgh’s EICC. To find out more visit

To view the full Scotland Visitor Survey 2015, visit:

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • 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
  • 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.
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • 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
  • For information about business events in Scotland go to

    Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design begins on 1 January 2016 and ends on 31 December 2016 and will build on the momentum generated by the current 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016
  • Events can join the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design Partner Programme throughout the year by visiting