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Tourism on road to £16bn investment

Press Release   •   Jan 12, 2017 12:19 GMT

The dualling of the A9 is among the projects

Scotland’s tourism industry stands to benefit from investment of over £16 billion over the next three years, a joint initiative between VisitScotland and its key local and national partners has revealed.

The updated Tourism Development Framework, first published in 2013, aims to highlight the importance of the visitor economy within the wider investment and infrastructure plans of local and national agencies. The Framework is closely aligned to and supports the contributions of the industry-led “Tourism Scotland 2020” strategy.

The £16 billion figure represents overall public and private sector investment in major infrastructure projects being delivered across the country that are expected to have an impact on the visitor economy and support tourism growth.

Transport is one of the key themes of the refreshed Framework, with travelling around Scotland a key part of the experience for visitors. Investment projects aimed at enhancing the customer’s transport experience are valued at over £8bn. Major projects include:

  • Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Project
    • Queensferry Crossing
    • Upgrades to improve Scotland’s popular scenic routes, including the dualling of the A9 from Perth to Inverness, and routes in Dumfries and Galloway
    • Significant improvements to rail, ferry and airport infrastructure
  • VisitScotland research has found that cars are the most popular mode of transport used by domestic visitors to Scotland. On average, there were 8.2 million domestic trips to Scotland by car each year from 2006 up to 2014*. In addition, the use of trains to Scotland has increased since the economic downturn, with on average of 1.6 million domestic trips to Scotland each year up to 2014*.

    Digital investment worth £486 million is also outlined within the Framework, including plans to deliver fibre broadband access to at least 95 per cent of premises in Scotland by the end of 2017.

    The Framework, which is supported by all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities and a range of national agencies, identifies projects that are due to start or be completed over the next three years covering all aspects of the visitor experience including digital, transport, accommodation, nature, heritage, towns and cities, and events and festivals.

    Figures outlined for each theme include:

    Towns & Cities £3 billion
    Accommodation £1 billion
    Digital £486 million
    Nature £255 million
    Food & drink £201 million
    Events & festivals £115 million

    Other projects include:
    • Aberdeen Marischal Square development and re-development of Aberdeen Art Gallery
    • Walking and cycling route developments in the two National Parks (Loch Lomond and The Trossachs and Cairngorms)
    • Golf course developments in Ayrshire
    • Dundee regeneration and heritage project
    • Development of three whisky distilleries in the Scottish Borders

    Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said:

    “Tourism is one of Scotland’s most important industries with its benefits and impacts reaching many other sectors of the Scottish economy. The Tourism Development Framework has identified £16 billion of major projects being delivered across Scotland that will have a positive impact for our visitors, ensuring they can be better connected and have the best possible experience while they’re here – with clear benefits for the visitor economy. I look forward to continuing to work with partners to ensure our tourism industry reaches its full potential and ambition.”

    Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

    “The visitor economy in Scotland supports many jobs across the country and is often the cornerstone of local economies. Realising its growth potential to 2020 through the planning system is an important opportunity to grasp, especially in our challenging economic climate. This National Tourism Development Framework refresh sets out actions to support sustainable growth in the visitor economy to 2020.

    “The Framework focuses on every single part of the visitor journey from arrival to departure. Good internet connectivity, smooth roads, informative signage and urban improvement projects are just a few of the hugely important pieces that join together to ensure our visitors have the best experience possible while in Scotland, no matter where they go.

    “We are excited by the level of investment in Scotland’s tourism future and aim to ensure this close working between local authorities and planning departments continues, creating real opportunities and benefits for many years to come.”

    COSLA Spokesperson for Development, Economy and Sustainability, Cllr Stephen Hagan said:

    “COSLA welcomes the refresh of the National Tourism Development Framework which highlights current investment in the visitor economy across Scotland. Tourism and its positive impact on local economic development plays a vital role in improving outcomes for local communities. Despite a period of uncertainty following the EU referendum I’m heartened to see that a variety of local projects and initiatives are being taken forward in order to raise the profile of the tourism sector which remains of crucial importance to the Scottish economy.”

    The National Tourism Development Framework for Scotland can be downloaded at:

    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