North American spend by visitors on the rise

Press release   •   Apr 19, 2013 00:00 BST

Tourists from North America are spending significantly more than ever before when in Scotland according to the latest tourism statistics published today.

Figures from the International Passenger Survey estimate  that in 2012, North American visitors contributed  13 per cent more to the Scottish economy than in 2011.

Numbers of North American tourists also rose 20 per cent in the final quarter of 2012 (October to December) than in the same time period of 2011.

Domestic figures, published by VisitScotland, suggest that domestic tourism visits to Scotland in the last quarter of 2012 remained resilient, with visits up 4.5 per cent and expenditure up 1.8 per cent on the same quarter of 2011.

Over the 12 month period to December 2012 visitor numbers from key emerging markets were up 2 per cent, North American visitors were down 5 per cent and European visitor numbers were down 7 per cent.

The survey, conducted by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggests a decline in total overseas visitors from December 2011 to December 2012 of 5 per cent, with overall overseas expenditure down 6 per cent.

Figures for the whole of 2012 suggest domestic visitors decreased by 4.6 per cent when compared to the previous year. Domestic tourism expenditure in Scotland fell by 4.1 per cent.

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said:

“While 2012 was a very challenging time for our tourism economy with the Euro crisis deterring visitors from some of our most prominent markets, it is heartening  to see a significant rise in expenditure from North America.

“There are signs of recovery in both the domestic and international markets in the last quarter of 2012, however it is clear the industry has had a tough time due to the Olympics and miserable weather conditions.

“Everyone in the Scottish tourism industry is playing their part in helping the sector to overcome these challenges and they can be assured they have the support of the Scottish Government in doing so. 

“We will continue to work with VisitScotland and our enterprise agencies to build on this during our Year of Natural Scotland in 2013 and on into  2014 which is set to put Scotland on the global stage as we not only welcome the world to our second year of Homecoming but  Scotland  also plays host to two of the biggest sporting events in the world -the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.”


For the latest VisitScotland statistics visit:

For the latest ONS International Passenger Survey visit:

Contact:Suzanne Hart on 0131 244 5122 or 07837061358

Notes to Editors:

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  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland. 
  • The organisation has three key roles:
  1. To market Scotland to all parts of the world to attract visitors
  2. To provide information – and inspiration – to visitors and potential visitors so they get the best out of a visit to Scotland
  3. To provide quality assurance to visitors and quality advice to the industry and partners to help the industry meet and strive to exceed customer expectations
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • 2014 is the year Scotland welcomes the world, when it hosts the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and more than 800 Homecoming events throughout the country.For more information on Homecoming Scotland 2014, go to 
  • The VisitScotland Information Centre network is a unique face-to-face channel engaging with around five million visitors and locals each year. Everyone who uses a VisitScotland Information Centre goes on to spend an additional £5.35, generating over £24 million for Scotland’s economy. 
  • According to a recent Deloitte study, tourism employs 270,000 people in Scotland in 20,000 diverse businesses. The same study calculates that the industry contributes £11 billion annually (direct and indirect impact, including day visits) and supports around 10 per cent of employment in Scotland. Almost 16 million tourists take overnight trips to Scotland.
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to 
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