Boost for tourism

Europeans drive 17% surge in overseas visitors to Scotland

Edinburgh Castle Esplanade

More Europeans are flocking to Scotland’s visitor attractions (pic: Terry Murden DB Media Services)


Visits and spending by overseas tourists in Scotland rose to its highest level on record last year, according to new figures.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows the number of overseas visitors to Scotland rose by 16.9% to 3.2 million – driven by European visitors who accounted for 60% of visits, spending £1.1 billion in the process. 

While the number of European visitors to Scotland rose by 17% from 2016 figures, elsewhere in the UK the figure was only lifted by 1%.  The figures follow an investment of almost £270 million in culture and heritage announced by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay.

They have prompted renewed calls from SNP MSP Angus MacDonald for a ferry link between Scotland and Scandinavia. He said: “It’s clear that there is no better time for ferry operators to reinstate a direct passenger ferry link between Scotland and Scandinavia. 

“Last year was a record year for overseas tourists – with visitors from Europe flocking to get their share of Scotland’s rich culture and heritage. 

“I have no doubt that a ferry link between Aberdeen, Rosyth or elsewhere would be fantastic for Scotland’s booming tourism industry.”

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