The Big Picture - September 2011

In this issue: strong growth in Scotland for the month of May, and a drop in business trips.

The latest Great Britain Travel Survey (GBTS) figures show that strong growth for Scotland in the month of May has reversed the poor performance seen in the previous months of this year.

For the year to May 2011, trips by GB residents to Scotland rose by almost four per cent and spend was up by five per cent over the same period in 2010. The number of nights dropped by three per cent, possibly reflecting a preference for shorter domestic breaks by the North of England and Scottish markets.

This growth, which was driven largely by strong holiday and visiting friends and relatives markets, saw Scotland significantly outperform the rest of Britain from January to May in terms of trips. 

Holiday trips to Scotland during this period rose by some nine per cent, while nights were up by 13 per cent and spend by 19 per cent. Trips to visit friends and relatives also rose by 13 per cent, with nights up by 28 per cent and spend by 20 per cent.

In the same period, business tourism trips to Scotland declined by 31 per cent, with nights down by a similar figure and spend dropping by 27 per cent. The decline in overnight business travellers suggests a possible shift to day travel and a link to declining (or entrenching) industrial performance in the UK. 

Whilst we can’t influence the level of business trips, which are linked to wider economic performance, businesses can do things to attract those who are travelling, such as: 

  • targeting their marketing to key business sectors in their area
  • providing smaller, informal meeting space
  • providing free wi-fi
  • offering incentives and loyalty schemes to attract repeat stays

VisitScotland’s ‘Confidence Monitor’ suggests that businesses in the serviced sector remain largely optimistic about business prospects for the remainder of 2011, although confidence within the self-catering sector may have been dented by a drop in occupancy in the month of June.