SCOTLAND’S tourism industry was boosted last year by a 10 per cent increase in the number of overseas visits and a 20 per cent rise in spending, new figures have shown.
Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that overseas visits rose from just over 2.2 million in 2012 to just over 2.4 million in 2013.
Spending by tourists from overseas was also up, rising from £1.4 billion in 2012 to almost £1.7 billion in 2013.
Figures from the Great Britain Tourism Survey show a decline in domestic visits, down 4.9 per cent in 2013, with spending also down slightly by 0.1 per cent.
Mike Cantlay, chairman of tourism agency VisitScotland, said the results were “very encouraging”.
“The growth in our international markets is superb, in both visits and expenditure, and illustrates increasing confidence within global markets,” he said.
“In particular, these results point to the success of our international marketing campaigns such as Meet the Scots and VisitScotland’s partnership with Disney surrounding the movie Brave.
“Crucial to our success has been attracting more direct flights than ever before to our airports across Scotland. That ease of access and improved air connectivity has been key.”
Mr Cantlay said domestic visits had been affected by a decrease in people visiting friends and family, but there had been an increase in those heading to rural areas for their holidays.
“As we move into an action-packed summer for Scotland with the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and a staggering 830 events under the Homecoming Programme, Scotland is in a perfect position to exploit tourism as a key driver of the Scottish economy,” he added.
“The events programme of 2014 presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to position Scottish tourism on the world stage and set up the second half of the decade for growth, investment and new Scottish jobs. The success of 2013 gives us a platform to secure precisely that.”