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US visitor numbers surge

Cheap travel draws Americans to Scotland

Tourism surge (photo by Terry Murden)

More airline seats boosts numbers

Tourism bosses say the slump in the pound and an increase in the number of direct flights has seen a surge in Americans visiting Scotland.

The number of Americans and Canadians increased by 36% in the last quarter and they spent 57% more than the same period in 2015. It was the largest volume of trips by North American Visitors since 2011.

Airlines such as Delta Air Lines, Icelandair, Air Canada Rouge, Air Transit and WOW added capacity on North American routes.

An additional 90,000 airline seats and cheaper travel for Americans coincided with a concentrated marketing campaign to boost the number of tourists.

Malcolm RougheadVisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead (right) said its first ever global campaign – the Spirit of Scotland – had played its part.

He said it had been a “resounding success with the biggest ever engagement across all our digital channels.”

The figures from the Office for National Statistics for July to September show overall visitor numbers increased by 4.5% and overall spend by 13.9%.

The majority of overseas visitors came from Europe. However, there was a fall in the number of visitors from Europe, largely because of security concerns but also because of events such as the European Football Championships in France and competition from countries such as Iceland and Scandinavia.

Mr Roughead said: “It is remarkable to see such unparalleled growth in the North American market in both visits and spend.  

“It is disappointing to see a slight dip in European visits from core markets such as France and Germany, but with uncertainty over safety and security during 2016 in these countries, it is perhaps understandable.  However, it’s interesting to see a significant rise of 48% from our Eastern European markets.

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round.  Thanks to the hard work of tourism businesses across the country, we are on track to reach the industry’s Tourism Scotland 2020 target to generate economic growth.

“In 2017, we are working hard to build on that strong foundation and create and invest in more innovative projects, events and activities to inspire people all over the world to put Scotland at the top of their must-see list. 

“With the Rough Guide recommending Scotland as a top place to visit in 2017, and a country-wide celebration of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, we are starting in a very strong place.”

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