International visitors on the rise

20% more visitors from Europe choosing to come to Scotland.

The latest statistics show the number of overseas tourists coming to Scotland has increased by 15% in one year – driven by a substantial rise in European visitors.

Figures released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show 20% more visitors from Europe came here in the 12 months to September 2017 – a total of 1.8 million people – and spent £1.1 billion, 24% more, than during the previous 12 months. 

For the UK as a whole, the increase in European visitors in this period was lower, at 6%, with expenditure up 1%.

The number of visitors to Scotland overall, both overseas and domestic, increased by 2% (to 14.1 million) and expenditure was up 7% (to £5 billion) for the 12 month period.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“It is very encouraging that many more Europeans are choosing to come to Scotland. This is testament, not only to our world-class landscapes and our vibrant cities but also to the welcome and warmth of our people.

“These figures also show that, when combining overseas and domestic tourism, total expenditure was more than £5 billion, highlighting the economic importance of tourism to supporting communities throughout Scotland.

“As the analysis we published earlier this week underlines, Brexit poses a significant threat to our economy, including tourism. We will continue to say loud and clear that people from the EU and elsewhere are welcome to work in our tourism sector and to visit us. .”


Domestic visitors to Scotland from elsewhere in Great Britain fell slightly, down 1% to 11. million, while spend increased to £2.9 billion, up 1%.

The growth in visitor numbers has been supported by an ambitious programme of marketing and PR activity by VisitScotland, including partnerships with TripAdvisor, and E4.


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