Rise in international visits

Eilean Donan Castle at dusk
Katharine Johnston

Overseas visitors are coming to Scotland in greater numbers than before the pandemic.

Figures published today by the Office for National Statistics show that Scotland has staged a stronger post-pandemic recovery than the UK as a whole, welcoming 1.4 million international tourist visits from July to September last year - up 14% on the same period in 2019.

Visitors spent a record £1.5 billion – 18% more than during the same three months in 2019 when adjusted for inflation.

At the same time, the number of visits in the UK as a whole was down compared to the same period in 2019.

Tourism Minister Richard Lochhead said:

“These encouraging statistics reinforce the resilience, creativity, commitment and innovation of Scotland’s tourism and hospitality sector - especially in response to what has been an incredibly challenging time. 

“Scotland’s unique culture, history and landscapes, plus global events such as the Scottish Open Golf Championship, the UCI World Cycling Championships and Edinburgh’s world-renowned festivals, draw visitors from across the world.

“Tourist numbers and spending in Scotland has recovered faster than the UK as a whole – and overseas visitors are returning here in greater numbers following the pandemic.

“We recognise that the sector faces challenges such as rising costs and skills shortages due to Brexit, and we will continue to support and work with the tourism and hospitality sector to grow its economic value while delivering the very best for visitors, businesses, and communities.”