Scotland received record 4 million foreign visitors in 2023

Visitor numbers up 15 pc, tourism spend rises 41 pc above 2019
2024-05-21
/
/ New Delhi
Scotland received record 4 million foreign visitors in 2023
Scotland received record 4 million foreign visitors in 2023

Spending by international visitors in 2023 stood at GBP 3.6 billion

A record 4 million international tourists visited Scotland, reflecting a growth of 15 pc above pre-pandemic peaks, while tourism spending rose 41 pc above the 2019 level.
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Scotland welcomed its highest number of international visitors ever last year. The 2023 International Passenger Survey by the Office of National Statistics shows that almost four million overseas tourists came to Scotland last year, an increase of 15 pc on 2019 levels with spend also up 41 pc.

According to a press statement by VisitScotland, international travel to Scotland continued its strong recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Visit numbers, nights spent and visitor spending all surpassed the levels seen in both 2019 and 2022, it says.

The tourism promotion organisation says that the number of visitors were up 23 pc compared to 2022 and 15 pc compared to 2019 and the number of nights, at 34.35 million, went up by 20 pc from 2022 and 25 pc from 2019.

Spending by international visitors in 2023 stood at GBP 3.6 billion, rise of 13 pc over 2022 and 41 pc compared to 2019, in nominal terms. In terms of regions for source markets, VisitScotland says that visits from North America rose by 16 pc and Europe by 19 pc, while in ‘other countries’, which include Australia and China, the numbers rose by 53 pc over to 2022.

Malcolm Roughead

Malcolm Roughead

“These figures mark a turning point for tourism in Scotland, showing not only recovery but crucially growth in international visitors with number of visits and spend now above 2019 levels. Scotland is the only UK region to have reached this milestone. They are further evidence of the strength of Scotland’s offering and the clear desire for people across the world to experience this, with record demand from North America,’’ says Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive, VisitScotland.

“Our international visitors are hugely important to Scotland’s tourism industry, as well as the wider economy. They often stay longer and spend more, generating several billions of pounds annually, supporting a wide range of businesses, jobs and communities across the country. With many businesses still recovering from the challenges of the pandemic and current economic climate, this will be welcome news,’’ he adds.

The demand is set to continue to strengthen in 2024 as well, says Roughead. “Early feedback from tourism businesses, travel trade and airline partners are this international demand is continuing into 2024 with increasing interest for visiting at different times of the year and exploring lesser-known locations,’’ he says.

And to ensure that the numbers keep rising, the tourism promotion organisation says it will continue to act in collaboration with other stakeholders of the tourism industry.

“At VisitScotland we are not complacent and remain focused on delivering our core purpose to drive the visitor economy and sustainably grow its value in Scotland. This includes influencing both international and domestic visitors before they leave home through our digital channels, as well as working with travel trade and transport partners to support tourism businesses here in Scotland. By encouraging regional and seasonal spread we can ensure Scotland remains a competitive year-round, must-see, must-return destination,” says Roughead.

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