The Big Picture - October 2011

In this issue: strong growth in Scotland for 2011, but weak growth for business travel.

The latest Great Britain Tourism Survey figures show strong growth for Scotland in the first six months of 2011.

January – June saw a 6 per cent increase in trips by British residents to Scotland compared with the same period last year, with spend rising by some 13 per cent to £1.2 billion. 

During this period, Scotland again out-performed the rest of Britain, which saw a 3 per cent increase in trips by domestic residents, and a 10 per cent increase in spend.

Holiday trips and visits to friends and relatives remained the key drivers. Pure holiday trips increased by 12% during this period, with spend up by 32 per cent. These trips rose by some 20 per cent, with a commensurate 21 percent increase in spend. 

Such is the growth of the visits to friends and relatives sector that it now makes up around a third of the overall holiday market in terms of spend and trips.

Pleasingly, between January and June Scotland saw double digit growth in trips in every month with the exception of February.

Business travel

Conversely, business travel in the first six months of 2011 remained weak, with a shift to ‘day travel’ in favour of overnight business trips providing a particular challenge for accommodation providers. 

The issue appears to have been compounded by the increasing use of technology which inevitably has lessened the need to travel for business purposes.

As a result the number of domestic business trips fell by some 25 per cent in the first six months of 2011, compared with the same period in 2010, while spend by domestic business travellers was down by 23 per cent.

On the plus side, however, our major conference destinations including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee report anecdotally that the conference market continues to hold up well, with attendance at events to date largely unaffected by the economic downturn.