The number of overnight visitors to Scotland rose by 9 per cent in 2011 according to the latest figures from the ONS and Great Britain Tourism Survey. This led in turn to a 14 per cent increase in expenditure over 2010.
The domestic 'staycation' market continued to perform well, with a 10 per cent increase in visits to Scotland from within Great Britain and a 20 per cent rise in the amount domestic visitors spend.
Internationally, the number of visitors showed relatively little change, decreasing by 1 per cent, but the number of tourists coming from North America rose by 15 per cent from 2010 levels.
The news follows VisitScotland research which shows that 'Daycations' – day visits – are worth over £6.2 billion to the Scottish Economy.
Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said:
“These encouraging figures are great news from Scotland’s tourism industry, and show just how resilient Scottish tourism is.
“The staycation market is continuing to boost visitor numbers and the average spend has carried on rising. We will continuing to invest in this market, and in this Year of Creative Scotland will see many more opportunities to do so.
“The 15 per cent increase in visitors from North America shows Scotland’s appeal continues to expand after a difficult time.
“Over the next three years we have an enormous number of opportunities to promote Scotland, including the release this summer of Disney-Pixar’s Brave, the Year of Homecoming, the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games 2014.
“The Scottish Government will work with VisitScotland, and other agencies, to ensure our tourism industry is in the best possible shape to make the most of these major events and milestones.”
Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said:
“Working together with the tourism industry we sell Scotland to the world, bringing millions of visitors and billions of pounds to the economy. For every £1 we invest more than £20 comes back into the Scottish economy - no other industry delivers such a return in such a short time frame.
"These results are of course also testament to the hard work and dedication of the Scottish tourism industry and it’s great to see that even against challenging economic times globally, Scottish tourism continues to thrive.”