Visitor boost for Scotland
The number of visitors to Scotland has risen by eight per cent in the first nine months of this year according to the latest statistics published today.
The results from 2011 International Passengers Survey and the GB Tourism Survey Quarters 1 - 3 show that overall spend by visitors has also gone up 11 per cent.
The domestic market continues to perform well, showing increases of 10 per cent in visitor numbers and 21 per cent in spend.
Internationally, the number of visitors fell by four per cent but the number of people coming to Scotland from North America rose by 18 per cent.
The release of the statistics coincides with the opening of the new Residence Inn by Marriot in Quartermile in Edinburgh demonstrating confidence in the industry.
Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said:
"These figures are encouraging and an excellent demonstration of the resilience of Scotland's tourism industry. The eight per cent increase in visitors represents growth in one of our key industry sectors and is great news for the economy.
"The staycation market is continuing to boost visitor numbers and average spend also rising. We will continue to invest in this market and the recently launched Year of Creative Scotland will help generate even more opportunities to do so.
"An 18 per cent increase in visitors from North America is extremely welcome and evidence that this market is continuing to pick-up after a tough time. This is off-set by an overall fall of four per cent in the number of international visitors to Scotland but we have to remember that tough times in the Eurozone will have an impact.
"The Scottish Government will work with VisitScotland to ensure that our tourism industry is in the best possible shape to make the most of the huge opportunities that are coming our way in the next three years.
"We have many major events and milestones to look forward to, including the release this summer of Disney-Pixar's Brave. By highlighting what we have to offer we can encourage even more people to come Scotland in the run-up to the Year of Homecoming, the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games in 2014."
Mike Cantlay Chairman of VisitScotland said:
"VisitScotland's marketing continues to show impressive results with our domestic campaign "Surprise Yourself" tracking at 42 per cent advertising awareness - the highest for a number of years. The campaign has reached more than 16 million people since March 2011 and has brought in some £90m of economic benefit. This has helped to boost the staycation market which is particularly buoyant at the moment and showing real opportunities for growth. It's fantastic to see the North American market showing such a strong recovery but disappointing the Eurozone is still very challenging.
"We are about to enter a once in a lifetime opportunity for tourism - spanning from Year of Creative Scotland 2012 to the end of Homecoming Scotland in 2014. This will be the opportunity for the tourism industry to focus on economic growth by engaging with eight milestones and events coming up over the next few years including the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games. It's an exciting time to be in tourism and we expect there will be many opportunities to increase the number of visitors coming to Scotland between now and 2014."