Scotland sees record-breaking number of international tourists

New figures show that Scotland experienced a record-breaking influx of international visitors in 2023, welcoming 3.9 million tourists, marking a 15 per cent increase from 2019.

The 2023 International Passenger Survey by the Office of National Statistics showed a significant 23 per cent increase from 2022, which saw 3.2 million visitors, and the previous record was set in 2018 with 3.7 million visitors. Notably, Scotland was the only UK nation to surpass its 2019 international tourism levels.

North American visits rise

North American and European visits rose by 16 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively, while visits from other countries, including Australia and China, surged by 53 per cent compared to 2022. The data highlighted that international visitors spent £3.5 billion, a 41 per cent rise from 2019. Spending from these “Other Countries” visitors also saw the largest growth, at 47 per cent over 2022, with North American and European visitors increasing their spending by three per cent and nine per cent, respectively.

North American tourists accounted for 24 per cent of all visits and 39 per cent of total spending. European visitors represented 58 per cent of visits and 39 per cent of spending, while tourists from the rest of the world contributed 17 per cent of visits and 21 per centof spending.

“These figures mark a turning point for tourism in Scotland, showing not only recovery but crucially growth in international visitors with number of visits and spend now above 2019 levels. Scotland is the only UK region to have reached this milestone,” said VisitScotland’s CEO, Malcolm Roughead.

“Our international visitors are hugely important to Scotland’s tourism industry, as well as the wider economy. They often stay longer and spend more, generating several billions of pounds annually, supporting a wide range of businesses, jobs and communities across the country. With many businesses still recovering from the challenges of the pandemic and current economic climate, this will be welcome news,” he concluded.

Full details can be viewed here.