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Tourism is just the job

Press Release   •   Jan 10, 2017 14:16 GMT

The number of people working in Scottish tourism has gone up by 11 per cent, according to newly analysed employment data*.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and published today on show that, between 2014 and 2015, the number of people employed in the sector grew to 217,000**.

The 11 per cent increase in Scotland is above the 4 per cent rise in Great Britain as a whole.

The 217,000 members of the Scottish tourism industry represent 9 per cent of the country’s total employment and is the highest tourism level since Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) records began in 2009.

Edinburgh and Glasgow are the two biggest tourism employers, with 34,600 (11 per cent of employment total) and 30,800 (8 per cent) respectively.

Proportionally, however, Argyll and Bute is the region where tourism has the biggest impact on employment. The 6,500 tourism workers represent nearly a fifth (17 per cent) of total employment in the region.

The 15,700 tourism workers in the Highlands makes up 14 per cent of the region’s total, the same percentage as Perth and Kinross, which employs 8,700 people in the industry.

West Dunbartonshire, which boasts the likes of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and Titan Crane, saw a massive 41 per cent jump to 3,100 employees, while Eilean Siar and Dundee experienced increases of 22 per cent (to 1,100) and 20 per cent (to 6,000) respectively.

Between 2014 and 2015, there was a 7 per cent increase (to 89,000) in the number of people working in Scotland’s restaurants. At 41 per cent, this makes up the biggest sector of the tourism industry.

Just over 53,000 work in hotels and other accommodation (up 14 per cent to now comprise almost a quarter of the total), while 37,200 are involved in “beverage serving activities” – a sector which saw a 27 per cent increase on 2014 figures and which now comprises 17 per cent of the total.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Our tourism industry is going from strength to strength and these figures serve to highlight the vital role that tourism plays in Scotland’s economy. They also show how important the industry is to our rural and coastal economies. Our food and drink sectors continue to play an important role in attracting our visitors and creating employment opportunities.

“Scotland is famed for its warm welcome, incredible scenery and top class attractions. This was illustrated recently when Scotland was ranked second in the Rough Guides list of the best countries in the world to visit in 2017.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “Tourism is more than a holiday experience. It creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round and is at the heart of the Scottish economy. These fantastic new figures show that, from hotel owners to waiting staff, tourism really is the driving force for providing the jobs of today and tomorrow. They also demonstrate the industry’s commitment to the 2020 strategy – which aims to generate economic growth through tourism.”

To view VisitScotland’s Tourism Employment in Scotland research paper, go to:

*UK Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) first published in September 2016:

**The employment statistics referenced here use the Scottish Government’s preferred Growth Sector definition of the tourism-related industries (as opposed to the international definition of Tourism as used by the Tourism Intelligence Unit at the Office for National Statistics) for monitoring change in the sector as detailed and available in the Growth Sector Statistics Database:

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
  • 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology

  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017