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Tourism at the top

Press Release   •   Dec 06, 2018 12:19 GMT

Infographic illustrates Tourism Employment by sub-sector 2012-2017

More people are working within Scotland’s tourism sector since the introduction of the National Tourism Strategy in 2012, VisitScotland has announced.

As well as an increase in tourism employment, the initiative, which aims to grow visitor spend by £1bn by 2020, has led to a wider variety of jobs across the sector.

Latest figures from 2017 show overall a rise of 24,500 jobs in the tourism industry over the past 5 years, increasing from 181,500 to 206,000. The City of Edinburgh has the highest rate of tourism employment, followed by Glasgow City, Highland and Aberdeen City.

In addition to the national growth, there has also been a substantial increase on a regional level with tourism employment rising by 14% in the South of Scotland and by 10% in Ayrshire.

Tourism also remains one of the most important employment sectors for Scotland’s rural communities. For example, in Argyll & Bute, there are 69 tourism jobs for every 1000 people work in the sector – the highest number per head of population in the country. This is closely followed by Highland (68), City of Edinburgh (64), Perth & Kinross (60) and Orkney (57).

In further positive news for the economy, there has also been a broadening of jobs across different sectors, showing less reliability on a few key sectors or companies. Main growth sectors include restaurants & mobile food service activities (up 22%), botanical and zoological gardens and nature reserve activities (up 25%) and tour operator activities (up 43%).

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “It’s fantastic to see the growth of tourism across Scotland with more people working in the industry and strong increases in a number of sectors like nature reserve activities and tour operator activities.

“The ongoing success of tourism reflects the talent, dedication and creativity of people working in the sector. The Scottish Government will do all it can to support this success so Scotland can continue to offer an unrivalled and memorable visitor experience for people who choose our country as their holiday destination.”

Chris Greenwood, Senior Tourism Insight Manager at VisitScotland said: “These figures show positive news for the sector, with an overall rise in jobs since the National Tourism Strategy came into place. The visitor economy causes a ripple effect that touches every industry, business and community in the country – from laundry services to life sciences. Tourism is the driving force for providing the jobs of today and tomorrow – for every £60,000 spent by visitors, a new job is created in Scotland.”

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change.”

Case Study

Throughout 2018, VisitScotland has been highlighting the valuable role of young people in the country’s thriving tourism and hospitality sector. Future Focus, inspired by Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, profiles a number of young tourism ambassadors by exploring their journeys working in the industry across a broad range of sectors. The campaign aims to encourage businesses and organisations to celebrate young employees and inspire future generations to consider tourism as a career.

Jamie Macdonald (22), from the Isle of Tiree, he has always had a keen interest in the culture, music and language of the west coast of Scotland. As a musician, he has travelled the world, bringing Scottish music and culture to audiences far and wide. This year, in celebration of the Year of Young People, he was successfully selected as the Youth Artistic Programmer for Tiree Music Festival as well as building two glamping pods on his family croft. His aim is to attract visitors to the Isle of Tiree whilst creating a sustainable living for himself.

Watch Jamie talk about his experiences and meet the other young tourism ambassadors here.

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 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, 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 tourism in Scotland go to

2018 Year of Young People

  • A global first, YoYP 2018 is a part of the Scottish Government’s themed-year programme which focuses on celebrating Scotland’s greatest assets.
  • A year-long programme of events and festivals are taking place across the whole of the country for all ages to enjoy, led by EventScotland part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. More information at
  • Local authorities, schools, youth groups and organisations are running their own YoYP 2018 activity. Search #YOYP2018 on Twitter for the latest news.
  • Young people co-designed the Year. A group of young leaders, Communic18, lead on all key decision making. More than 380 Ambassadors based are championing activity.
  • The Year is delivered in partnership between the Scottish Government, VisitScotland and EventScotland - part of the VisitScotland Events Directorate, Young Scot, Scottish Youth Parliament, Children in Scotland, YouthLink Scotland and Creative Scotland.
  • More information can be found at, searching @YOYP2018 #YOYP2018 on Twitter or by emailing