Tourism boom for Scotland as sales and stays from travellers surge

Sales from tourists is up by 70% by overnights stays have risen while nearly a third.

Post-Covid tourism boom for Scotland as sales increase by 70%, according to ONS Paul Tomkins/Visit Scotland

Tourist spending in Scotland has boomed compared with pre-Covid levels, new figures have shown.

Provisional data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that in the first three months of this year, cash spent by overseas visitors was 70% higher when compared to the same period of time four years ago.

Tourists spent a total of £359m during the first quarter of 2023, with this up from £210m in the same period of 2019.

The figures from the ONS also showed the number of overnight visits made by people from outside the UK had increased, rising from 443,000 from January to March 2019, to 572,000 in the first three months of 2023 – an increase of 29%.

However, the number of overnight visits in both England and Wales was still below 2019 levels, the figures showed.

Scottish tourism appears to have picked up from a fall during Covid-19.iStock

In England, there were 6,956,000 overnight visits in the first three months of this year, down from 7,489,000 in the same period in 2019.

Meanwhile, there were 151,000 overnight visitor stays in Wales from January to March, compared to 156,000 in the same period in 2019.

The majority of visitors to Scotland in the first three months of this year were from Europe, with 407,000 spending at least one night here.

There were also 70,000 visitors from the US and 94,000 from other nations, the data showed.

Tourism minister Richard Lochhead said: “These encouraging statistics show that tourist numbers and spending in Scotland has recovered faster than the rest of the UK – and overseas visitors are returning to Scotland in greater numbers following the pandemic.”

He added: “Scotland is an increasingly attractive destination for international tourists.

“I am confident that Scotland’s unique culture, history and landscapes, plus global events such as the Scottish Open Golf Championship, next month’s UCI World Cycling Championships and Edinburgh’s world-renowned festivals, will further drive tourist numbers over the summer.”

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