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Scottish tourism industry shows resilience amid global uncertainty

Press Release   •   Oct 13, 2016 10:18 BST

With the release today of 2016 Quarter 2 (April – June 2016) International Passenger Survey (IPS) tourism statistics by the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS), VisitScotland Chief Executive, Malcolm Roughead reflects on the first 6 months of 2016 for Scottish tourism:

“It is positive to see that Scottish tourism is continuing to perform well in the first half of 2016 with an increase in both visits and spend year on year. And the news that, in the second quarter of the year, international visitors have broken through the £500million spend barrier for the first time ever is truly extraordinary.

“In a period of global political and economic issues and uncertainties, it is heartening to see that Scotland has been able to enjoy continued growth and we must credit all those who work hard in the industry day in and day out to ensure our country stays high on visitors’ ‘must experience’ list.

“With greater airline connectivity than ever before, award-winning food and drink, outstanding accommodation and exciting new attractions, things are looking remarkably good for Scottish tourism, but we cannot afford to be complacent in such unpredictable times. We must continue to invest, improve, and innovate to ensure we are resilient and that we remain integral to the Scottish economy.”


First half of year statistics (Jan – Jun 2016) – Overseas visitors

Overseas visits have increased: +2.6%

Overseas spend has increased: +9.3%

Quarter 2 only statistics (Apr – Jun 2016) - Overseas visitors

Overseas visits have decreased: -7.5%

Overseas spend has increased: +9.4%

The ONS statistics are available at:

Scottish Government release:

Due to an error in the Great Britain Tourism Survey, domestic tourism figures have not been published. Corrected data will be published when available.

In context: Quarter 2 Overseas Analysis

  • Easter was in March 2016 and April 2015.
  • European Security situation was heightened following the aftermath of the Paris terrorism events of November 2015. In June 2016 there were terrorist events in Florida, France and Belgium following growing tension.
  • The migrant situation within Europe resulted in a number of EU countries closing borders and implementing passport based travel requirements which may have affected travel attitudes.

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international       opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One       Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • 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.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit or follow @scotgovESIF
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
  • For information about business events in Scotland go to

      2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design started on 1 January 2016 and will end on 31 December 2016.It will build on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. 
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016