Surge in overseas visitors

Tourism boost strongly supported by visitors from North America.

Scotland experienced a 6% surge in visitors from overseas in 2016, new figures show.

Statistics published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today highlight an additional 155,000 overseas visits were made to Scotland last year compared with 2015, strongly supported by a rise in the number of tourists from North America.

Visitors from overseas spent an extra £155 million during their stay – an increase of 9% compared with the previous year.

This compares with a 4% increase in overseas visits and a 2% increase in overseas expenditure for the UK as a whole.

Edinburgh is ranked the second most popular city with overseas visitors to the UK, and Glasgow is in sixth place.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“These figures underline Scotland’s appeal as a world-class tourism destination and are a credit to our tourism industry’s hard work to attract and welcome more than 2.7 million overseas visitors last year.

“We have seen an 18 per cent increase in the number of visits from North America and welcomed more than 1.6 million visitors from across Europe, highlighting the strength of our connections with the US and our neighbours on the continent.

“Our overseas visitors spent £1.85 billion in 2016, a 9% increase on the previous year and a welcome boost for our tourism and hospitality sectors and wider economy.

“We are committed to working with VisitScotland and the tourism sector to build further on Scotland’s reputation as a must visit, must return destination.”


The ONS publication ‘Travel Trends: 2016’ provides information on visits to the UK from overseas visitors and visits overseas by UK residents.


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