THE number of people visiting Scotland has increased by 7 per cent in the last year, according to figures published by Visit Scotland
When figures for overseas and domestic visitors are combined, more than 15.5 million tourists visited the country.
Their spending amounted to more than £5 billion, an increase of 10 per cent from the previous 12 months.
Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: “These figures are hugely encouraging for the Scottish tourism industry as we continue to outperform Great Britain as a whole.
“The rise in both visitors and expenditure show that Scotland is a destination that offers quality experiences and visitors are prepared to spend their money in our hotels, tourism attractions and restaurants.
Tourists from North America spent a total of £488 million in the 12 months, an increase of 16 per cent, while there was na increase in the expenditure of visitors from elsewhere in Europe of 7 per cent. The number of domestic visitors to Scotland rose by 8 per cent.
Ewing believes the success is “a result of the efforts of our hotels, B&Bs self-catering properties, caravan and holiday home parks, visitor attractions, restaurants and cafés and generally the people who work to make our visitors welcome to Scotland.”
According to a recent Deloitte study, the tourism economy supports 270,000 jobs in Scotland in 20,000 diverse businesses. The same study calculated that the tourism economy contributes £11bn annually and supports around 10 per cent of employment in Scotland.
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland said: “It is encouraging that despite increased competition from other markets, Scottish tourism is continuing to perform well, particularly in relation to overall spend by visitors, and it’s good to see that the European market remains robust in spite of the euro’s weakness against the pound.”