ScotRail's recent report reveals an annual contribution of 1.2 billion in GDP to Scottish tourism.
Railways play a key role in helping connect visitors with tourism experiences, unlocking value for Scotland’s economy.
First ScotRail is the UK's largest regional train operator, and part of the Aberdeen-based FirstGroup plc. A recent study by The Fraser of Allander Institute highlights its economic contribution to the Scottish tourism industry.
In 2012, ScotRail carried a total of 42 million passengers on leisure trips throughout Scotland. It estimates that these journeys account for over half (54.2 percent) of all passenger journeys. Leisure journeys were primarily made for short-term trips (48.2 percent of all passenger journeys). At the time of the report, the company also anticipated transporting around 40,000 spectators to the Ryder Cup, and carries crowds of 28,000 people to Six Nations games at Murrayfield.
Recent VisitBritain figures showed that Scotland was the second largest tourism economy in the UK, attracting around 10percent (9.6 percent) of all UK tourism spending in 2013. Despite this, the domestic market leads in terms of trip numbers, with VisitScotland estimating the number of trips by overseas visitors at just 2.23 million, less than a fifth of the number of domestic trips. The importance of short trips to the overall economy is demonstrated by the fact that over half (50.9 percent) of all domestic tourism trips in Scotland were made by residents. Overseas visitors, however, do spend an average of three times as much as domestic visitors.
What is perhaps more interesting is how spending from both groups is distributed. Major cities, particularly Edinburgh, attracted the majority of spending for both overseas and domestic trips. A significant number of overseas guests are welcomed to more remote areas, with 10percent of overseas spending destined for the Highlands and 7 percent in Argyll and the Isles, Loch Lomond and Forth Valley. This compares to 14 percent and 11 percent respectively for GB tourists. ScotRail’s developments plans are set to improve these figures further.
The Borders rail link, due to open in 2015, and ScotRail franchise requirements to attract greater use of Scotland’s rural lines are set to aid access to more remote areas and increase economic activity in rural areas.
39 million rail journeys each year start with a bicycle. This figure has increased by 14 million per annum since 2009 (National Cycle-Rail Awards 2013 Winners Brochure) and, thanks to projects such as Stirling Cycle Hub, looks set to continue growing.
The Cycle Hub, which aims to encourage people to cycle more as a leisure activity and mode of transport and recognise health and environmental benefits, received formal recognition for its support for tourism when it won the Door to Door Journeys Award at the National Cycle-Rail Awards 2013. The award recognised their progress in facilitating and promoting the integration of active travel and public transport. In addition to providing information about cycle routes, groups and networks, they provide cycle hire, run events and seek community partnership to integrate cycling into local events and projects.
The Stirling Cycle Hub is funded by Transport Scotland, in partnership with ScotRail, and is managed by Forth Environment Link.
The Fraser of Allander Institute study also found that ScotRail directly enables a total of 37,721 jobs and £1.2 billion worth of GDP in the tourist industry in Scotland. While the largest impacts are in Edinburgh and Glasgow and their surrounding areas, where ScotRail enables 16,203 jobs, there are significant effects across the whole country. In the Highlands, for example, 4,808 jobs are enabled. Argyll and the Isles, Loch Lomond and Forth Valley also sees notable benefits (3,634 jobs).