Staycation numbers up for North of Scotland
Visitor numbers to the north of Scotland from across Great Britain rose by 10 per cent last year, while spending was up almost a quarter, Alex Salmond revealed today, as millions of people around the world watched the climax of the 2012 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
The First Minister is due to present the winner’s trophy for this year’s Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, where tens of thousands of spectators and tens of millions of people around the world have witnessed action from the European Tour event in its stunning setting just outside Inverness.
He said: “Scotland offers great riches of natural beauty, culture and major sporting and entertainment events the length and breadth of the country. The Highlands offer many of the great iconic beauty spots that are so important to our tourism industry. I'm delighted therefore that, not only are more visitors coming north to stay in Scotland, but also an increasing number are coming to the north of the country - and spending more money in shops and businesses while enjoying what we have to offer.
“This year's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open has been a great success, providing great golf, and a tense final day of play as well as showcasing this stunning part of the Highlands to golfers and tourists right across the world. As we head towards 2014, the Scottish Government is determined to ensure we build on the progress of recent years and on the success of events such as we have seen in the last week at Castle Stuart, to ensure the benefits of hosting the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow are felt in communities right across Scotland, from the Highlands and Islands to the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.”
Figures published earlier this week showed that overall visitor numbers to Scotland rose five per cent over the last year (from April 2011 to March 2012), with a six percent rise in visitors from Great Britain, who spent 21 per cent more compared to the previous twelve-month period. Today's figures for the North of Scotland show the region witnessed the largest domestic visitor increase (10.2 per cent) outwith Edinburgh over the year, compared to 2010-11. The Great Britain Tourism Survey also revealed that spending in the North of Scotland rose by almost a quarter (22.48 per cent).
Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, added: “These figures show that, over the past 12 months, the North of Scotland has continued to punch above its weight, providing visitors with a warm welcome and holiday experiences of the highest quality. Fantastic events such as the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart show exactly why this country is known throughout the world as the Home of Golf. As we work towards the 2014 Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, when Scotland welcomes the world in the second Year of Homecoming, we have the chance to welcome even more visitors to experience exactly what the North of Scotland has to offer.”
An independent economic impact study commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise found that more than £5 million was contributed to the Scottish economy as a result of the 2011 Scottish Open.
Around £100m is expected to be delivered to the Scottish economy in the week of the 2014 Ryder Cup tournament alone. Each day, 45,000 spectators from across the world will attend to watch the best players from Europe and the USA.
Scotland is known world-wide as "the home of golf". Attracting international and UK-based golfers to stay and play in Scotland is a key strand in the country’s tourism strategy. VisitScotland has a dedicated golf marketing programme which targets golfers throughout the UK and in key international markets across the world. VisitScotland also works with many partners on golf tourism, as well as conducting research with golf consumers.
Golf tourism is a major contributor to Scotland’s economy and is estimated to be worth around £220 million annually.