European visitor numbers rose 19% in 2018

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

The number of European visitors to Scotland increased by 19% in 2018, according to recent official statistics.

Overall there was a 10% increase in visits from overseas tourists and a 1.2% increase in domestic (Great Britain) overnight visits to Scotland.

These increases compare to a 3% decrease in overseas tourism visits and a 6% decrease in overseas expenditure for the UK as a whole.

Amongst overseas visitors, Edinburgh ranks second behind London for visits and spending in UK towns. Scottish tourists’ favourite overseas destination is Spain, followed by France, USA, Germany and Netherlands. Scottish residents made around 1.1m visits to Spain.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“I am pleased that Scotland’s reputation as a warm, welcoming country remains strong, and that an increasing number of visitors from the EU and beyond are coming to enjoy our varied heritage and breath-taking natural landscapes.

“Our tourism industry is of vital importance to the Scottish economy. However, with the on-going uncertainty of EU exit and the end of freedom of movement, coupled with rising costs for both businesses and individuals, the Scottish Government recognises we cannot take tourism success for granted. That is why we will continue to work to support the sustainable growth of the industry as it creates jobs, boosts the local and national economy and builds on our strong international reputation.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

“The IPS results show that Scotland is still a strong proposition for the European market, and our strategy of attracting visitors all year round is proving successful. Everything we do is about creating a passion for Scotland – building an army of advocates through innovative marketing, partnership, events and business excellence to create a destination and customer experience worth talking about.

“The impact of tourism goes far beyond the holiday experience. It is vital to the Scottish economy, reaching every corner of the country, creating jobs, income and social change and these positive figures show that our European visitors appreciate Scotland is open, and welcome them to see everything this beautiful country has to offer.”

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