World tourists pay Scotland a visit in record year

Tourists and holidaymakers in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow
Tourists and holidaymakers in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow
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TOURISM chiefs are confident of a record-breaking summer for Scotland as it was revealed that last year saw the highest number of visitors for seven years.

Overseas holiday visits rose by 16.5 per cent in the summer of 2013, with more than £500 million spent by visitors north of the Border, according to new VisitBritain research.

The economic impact of spending at hotels, tourist attractions and businesses takes many months to calculate but key Fringe venues have already hailed this summer’s arts extravaganza as the biggest ever.

In Glasgow, hoteliers have said revenue during July is likely to show year-on-year growth of between 200 to 300 per cent on the back of the Glasgow Games.

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said: “The summer of 2013 was a particularly strong season for Scotland.

“We now look forward to welcoming more visitors and seeing more growth within the industry this year, following the extraordinary success of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and Edinburgh festivals, as well as next month’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.”

Scotland welcomed 615,000 overseas holiday visits in the July, August and September period last year – compared to the 528,000 holiday visits that took place during the same period in 2012.

This was the highest number since the pre-economic crisis record of 654,000 in 2007.

A record £504 million was spent on trips in 2013, which was up 33 per cent on 2012, when £378 million was spent.

London saw a 4 per cent increase whilst Wales enjoyed a spending increase of 15 per cent.

This year is tipped to see a similar boost for the tourism sector, with Fringe venues including the Assembly Rooms and The Stand Comedy Club saying that box office takings have reached an all-time high.

One of Scotland’s biggest attractions, the Falkirk Wheel, saw visitor numbers top 5.5 million. It has enjoyed its most successful summer in eight years with visits to the world’s only rotating boat lift up 30 per cent this summer on last year.

Alasdair Smart, Lowland Waterways manager, said: “It has been a busy and exciting summer and we are proud to have now had more visitors than the entire population of Scotland.

“More than 90,000 people enjoyed all the attractions that the wheel has to offer this July and we hope that visitors continue to come to enjoy this amazing feat of engineering.”

Americans topped the visitor chart for 2013 with 111,000 flocking to Scotland. They spent £113 million in the three summer months, which set a new record for tourists from that country.

This was 53 per cent more than they spent during the same period in 2012 (£74 million).

Patricia Yates, director of communications at VisitBritain, said: “These numbers demonstrate Scotland’s strong international appeal and the economic delivery of inbound tourism.

“We have been working in partnership with VisitScotland to ensure that the good figures from last year are built on, to show continued growth for Scottish tourism.”