Boom in Scotland's Chinese tourism market revealed by Nicola Sturgeon in Beijing

The number of Chinese visitors flocking to Scotland has soared by almost 200 per cent in the space of a decade.

New figures have revealed the Chinese market is now worth an estimated £36 million compared to just £7 million 10 years ago.

Around 41,000 people are travelling from China for a holiday or business trip in Scotland with the average length of stay lasting more than 12 days.

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The latest figures, revealed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a visit to Beijing, have emerged weeks after the first direct air link between Scotland and China was confirmed.

Hainan Airlines will run flights twice a week between Bejing and Edinburgh from June.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Tourism is a vital part of Scotland’s economy, and these figures demonstrate the growing significance of Chinese visitors to our country.

“It is important we continue to build on this, particularly with the confirmation of the first direct air route beginning later this year.

“During my visit I will carry out engagements to further strengthen our relationship with China in a number of sectors, including tourism.

“I am travelling with the message that Scotland offers a warm welcome to all visitors, with our unique mix of history, stunning scenery and world-class culture and food and drink.

“Increasing tourism deepens the friendship between our two nations, and this can only help firms who do business in China.”

Dozens of Chinese travel firm are due in Scotland this week for VisitScotland's annual industry trade fair.

A spokeswoman for VisitScotland said: “China is an important and growing market for the Scottish tourism sector with Edinburgh being the most popular UK destination after London.

“The first direct air route between Edinburgh and China was announced last month.

The twice-weekly service between Edinburgh and Beijing will give more Chinese visitors the opportunity to discover Scotland’s natural beauty and the country’s wealth of unique visitor experiences, which include majestic castles, Scotch whisky, the world’s most famous golf courses and our delicious food.”

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland’s chief executive, added: “We’re working closely with businesses across Scotland to help them to access this important international market.

“We’re also working with Chinese travel companies to develop the range of Scottish holidays available to their clients and at our own VisitScotland Expo travel trade fair in Glasgow this week we will host 35 Chinese tour operators who are keen to do business with Scotland.”