The Big Picture - June 2011

In this issue: an overall fall in trips to Scotland, but a rise in spend by overseas visitors.

Figures for 2010 show that the overall number of tourist trips to Scotland fell by two per cent when compared with 2009, with spend falling by 0.8 per cent.

International Passenger Survey figures indicate that whilst trips by overseas visitors fell by eight per cent, spend rose by six per cent to £1.4 billion. 

The USA, Germany, France, Ireland and Australia remained our top overseas markets, representing some 45 per cent of all inbound trips, although an actual decline in trips was recorded from the US, France and Germany.

India showed the largest percentage increase in trips, however this was from a relatively small base. Overall, the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China represented 2.4 per cent of all overseas trips to Scotland in 2010 (up from 2.2 per cent), with spend from these emerging markets comprising just over three per cent of overseas receipts (up from 2.4 per cent in 2009).

With regard to domestic tourism, UKTS figures show that trips taken by UK residents to Scotland fell by 0.8 per cent in 2010 when compared with 2009, with spend down by four per cent to £2.6 billion.

The Scottish resident market was the largest domestic market for Scotland, with trips rising by nine per cent over 2009 figures. 

Conversely, 2010 saw a significant decline of eight per cent in the number of English residents taking trips in Scotland, something which was also mirrored in other parts of the UK. 

The North West of England and Yorkshire were our largest English markets, with short trips of one to three nights proving particularly buoyant. While trips from the South of England declined overall, the number of longer stays from this market increased, suggesting that greater transport costs may have had a direct correlation on the length of stay.

Leisure tourism remained the most popular type of trip, with a significant increase in the number of people visiting friends and relatives (VFR) for holiday purposes. Whilst this trend towards VFR trips may have adversely affected spend on some types of accommodation, it is likely to have had a positive impact on other sectors including restaurants.

Business tourism showed good signs of recovery in 2010, with trips up by 20 per cent on 2009, however spend in this sector fell by four per cent, suggesting that corporate clients still retain a cautious attitude to travel and spend.