Scottish tourism bucks UK trend with 10% rise

kelpies Image copyright PA
Image caption Homecoming 2014 was one of the attractions for overseas tourists

The number of tourists in Scotland increased by 10% last year, according to new official figures.

There were 15.7m overseas and domestic visitors to Scotland in the year to the end of March 2015, the Office for National Statistics said.

Tourists spent more than £4.9bn, a 10% increase on the previous year, according to the figures.

The 10% increase in domestic visitors is set against a 2% decrease for Britain as a whole.

The figures also showed an increase of visitor numbers from North America of 31% and a rise in expenditure from US and Canadian tourists of 50%.

There were 540,000 visitors from North America in 2014 but the majority of overseas tourists - 1,718,000 - were from Europe, mainly EU countries.

Other countries outside Europe and North America accounted for 441,000 visitors.

Outperform Britain

Separate figures for the first three months of 2015 showed overseas visits decreased by 1% when compared with the same period in 2014.

Domestic visits increased by 29% in the first three months of 2015.

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: "These figures are hugely encouraging for the Scottish tourism industry as we continue to outperform Great Britain as a whole.

"The rise in both visitors and expenditure show that Scotland is a destination that offers quality experiences and visitors are prepared to spend their money in our hotels, tourism attractions and restaurants.

"Recent figures show Homecoming 2014 generated £136m of additional revenue to the Scottish economy and we are determined to build on this legacy through other themed years."

Mr Ewing added: "The sustainable increase and expenditure in visitors from North America is hugely encouraging and owes much to the warmth of welcome of our people and our growing international reputation as a place to visit."

VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said: "After the outstanding success of 2014, we are delighted to see that Scottish tourism is continuing to do exceptionally well during what is a very challenging economic time for many countries around the world."

He added: "The international outlook is complicated with a direct impact from the poor exchange rate of the Euro. However, the North American market remains strong after a buoyant 2014 and we continued to see a large rise in the number of these very important visitors who contribute a lucrative amount to Scottish tourism."

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