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​What we did on our holiday? Sustained Scotland’s rural communities

Press Release   •   Aug 14, 2017 12:57 BST


New research has illustrated the vital role tourism plays in supporting local communities across Scotland.

The study, carried out by VisitScotland, has revealed that in some communities of Scotland, such as Argyll & Bute and the Highlands, tourism employment accounts for nearly double the national average of 9%.

Tourism has the biggest impact on employment in Argyll and Bute with17% of the population employed in the sector. Other areas that lead the way in tourism employment include Highlands (14%), South Ayrshire (13%) and Orkney (12%).

Between them, Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Highlands, Aberdeen City and Fife accounted for almost half of tourism employment in 2015 with 103,400 jobs. Overall there are 217,000 jobs relating to tourism in Scotland.

Local authorities have long recognised the important contribution of tourism to their local areas providing infrastructure that is essential for its growth, captured in the National Tourism Development Framework. The aim of this framework is to highlight the activity and investment that exists to ensure the visitor journey is as smooth and efficient as possible.

Local authorities that include the most tourism businesses relative to their population are Argyll and Bute (13.5%), Dundee (11.5%), North Ayrshire (11.3%), West Dunbartonshire (11.3%) and the Highlands (11.0%).

The top ten most visited regions in Scotland by overnight visitors are*:

1.Edinburgh (2,276,000 trips)

2.Highlands (1,777,000 trips)

3.Glasgow City (1,682,000 trips)

4.Argyll and Bute (891,000 trips)

5.Perth and Kinross (721,000 trips)

6.Dumfries and Galloway (702,000 trips)

7.Aberdeen City (661,000 trips)

8.Fife (528,000 trips)

9.Stirling (432,000 trips)

10.South Ayrshire (373,000 trips)

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“Tourism is a key part of our economy, right across Scotland. As VisitScotland’s figures show, it is vital in supporting some of our most fragile, rural communities.

“The Scottish Government and our public bodies are working in partnership with the industry to create sustainable and inclusive economic growth for everyone, throughout the year.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive at VisitScotland said:

Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it is integral to sustaining communities across Scotland by generating income, creating jobs and stimulating social change. More and more people are realising just how important the sector is to the economy and these figures illustrate this vital impact that is growing year on year.

“Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation to ensure that current provision meets future demand. VisitScotland is working with stakeholders and businesses across the country to ensure that this happens and ultimately every visitor gets a quality experience every single time.”

For more information, visit

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
  • To ensure everyone can safely enjoy Scotland’s amazing countryside and landscapes, VisitScotland encourages all visitors to fully respect their surroundings by behaving in a responsible and appropriate way.
  • 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)
  • 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