Drop in Scotland tourist numbers linked to EU referendum

The latest drop in international visitors to Scotland comes after a slump during 2015.
The latest drop in international visitors to Scotland comes after a slump during 2015.
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Spending from international visitors to Scotland rose by nearly £50 million to a record level in the spring - despite a slump in the total number of tourists from overseas.

Visitor numbers in the second quarter of 2016 were down 7.5 per cent, according to new research by the UK Office of National Statistics.

It is thought a 16 per cent drop in European visitors coming to Scotland is behind the decline in the numbers coming to Scotland from foreign shores.

However the same research found spending from overseas visitors over this period broke through the £500 million barrier for the first time.

The Scottish Government cited “economic uncertainty” created by the run-up to the EU referendum at the end of June for the drop in the number of overseas visitors.

Tourism agency VisitScotland said other factors included growing international tensions in the wake of terror attacks in Florida, France and Belgium, and the tightening of border controls due to “the migrant situation in Europe.

The latest drop in overseas visitor numbers has emerged after they fell by four per cent in 2015 compared to the previous year. An eight per cent drop in international spending was also recorded in the space of 12 months. The slump was blamed on the impact of events like the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup.

Tourism secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “It’s encouraging that overseas tourists are spending more when they visit Scotland. These figures prove isitors are prepared to come here to enjoy our incredible views, top class attractions and to spend in our hotels, shops and restaurants. Our industry, which employs 217,000 people is resilient and continues to thrive.”

VisitScotland’s chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “In a period of global political and economic issues and uncertainties, it is heartening to see Scotland has been able to enjoy continued growth.

“We must credit all those who work hard in the industry day in and day out to ensure our country stays high on visitors’ ‘must experience’ list.”