Prolonged winter sports season credited with boosting sector
THE Scottish tourism industry has started 2013 on a high, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Its newly published Overseas Travel and Tourism report for the first quarter of 2013 said spend from overseas visitors had increased in Scotland compared to the first quarter of 2012.
This was despite fewer visitors making trips to Scotland.
According to the report, the number of visitors from overseas was down from 325,000 in the first quarter of 2012 to 297,000 in the first quarter of 2013.
However, overseas visitors spent £180 million in Scotland between January and March of this year, compared to £148m in the first quarter of 2012 – an increase of more than 21%.
Domestic visits to Scotland also increased in the first quarter of the year, up 9.6%, with first quarter spend from domestic visitors up 0.2%.
Twelve-month figures between April 2012 and March 2013 were less positive, however, with the overall number of overseas visitors to Scotland down 7.6% and spend from those visitors down 4.8%.
Overall, combined overseas and domestic visits fell 1% throughout the year, compared to the previous 12 months, while combined spend was down 4.3%.
VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said the figures for the first quarter show the tourism industry has had an “incredible start” to the year.
“The industry is back on the front foot, capitalising on the cold spring in the north, for example, with a remarkable prolonged winter sports season,” he said.
“Our emerging markets are performing well and it’s interesting to see the rise in expenditure and visits in the rolling year statistics.”
And despite overall visitor numbers falling last year, Scottish tourism minister Fergus Ewing said the number of visitors from countries such as India, Australia and China “continues to grow”.
“These figures show the demand from long-haul tourists for holidaying in Scotland,” said Ewing.
He added that the figures for the first quarter of the year were “encouraging”.
Image – Lonely Planet recently highlighted Stirling Castle as a top place to visit.