European visitor numbers to Scotland jump 19% in year

By Laura Paterson, Political Reporter, Press Association Scotland
The Office for National Statistics said overall overseas tourism rose by 10% to 3.5 million people in 2018.

Overseas tourism to Scotland rose by 10% in a year while the number of  European tourists jumped 19%, according to new figures.

The Office for National Statistics found 2.25 million European tourists visited Scotland in 2018, up from 1.89 million in 2017.

Visits from overseas rose to 3.5 million over the year.

Tourists from European Union countries rose a quarter in this period, to two million.

Visitors from North America fell by 8.5% to 623,000 between 2017 and 2018, with a corresponding 14% drop in spending.

Overall spending by overseas visitors in Scotland fell 3% to £2.2 billion in the same period.

Across the UK, overnight stays by European visitors fell by 4% while overall overseas visits dropped by 3%, and spending from the latter group dropped 6%.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “I am pleased that Scotland’s reputation as a warm, welcoming country remains strong, and that an increasing number of visitors from the EU and beyond are coming to enjoy our varied heritage and breath-taking natural landscapes.

“Our tourism industry is of vital importance to the Scottish economy.

“However, with the ongoing uncertainty of EU exit and the end of freedom of movement, coupled with rising costs for both businesses and individuals, the Scottish Government recognises we cannot take tourism success for granted.”

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “The impact of tourism goes far beyond the holiday experience.

“It is vital to the Scottish economy, reaching every corner of the country, creating jobs, income and social change and these positive figures show that our European visitors appreciate Scotland is open, and welcome them to see everything this beautiful country has to offer.”