Scotland business

ONS: Sharp rise in North American visitors to Scotland

Edinburgh Castle Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Edinburgh was the most popular city with overseas overnight visitors to the UK outside of London

A sharp rise in the number of tourists from North America helped drive a 6% increase in overseas visitors to Scotland last year, according to new figures.

The Office for National Statistics found overseas visits to Scotland rose by 155,000 in 2016, compared with 2015.

The numbers were boosted by an 18% rise in visitors from the US and Canada.

Tourism body VisitScotland attributed that increase in part to the success of the television series Outlander.

It said the series, which was filmed at various locations across Scotland, including Doune Castle near Stirling, had fuelled a growing interest in ancestral tourism.

The latest ONS figures also showed that international visitors spent £1.85bn in Scotland in 2016 - a rise of 9% compared with the previous year.

Edinburgh was found to be the most popular city with overseas overnight visitors to the UK outside of London.

Glasgow was the sixth most popular, while Inverness was in 12th place and Aberdeen at number 19.

'Very positive year'

VisitScotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead said: "Overall, 2016 was a very positive year for Scottish tourism, with these figures showing that there is a huge appetite among overseas visitors to explore Scotland.

"A growing interest in ancestral tourism, which in part has been fuelled by the success of the hit television series Outlander, as well as increased airline capacity, has continued to see visitors from North America coming here in large numbers.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "These figures underline Scotland's appeal as a world-class tourism destination and are a credit to our tourism industry's hard work to attract and welcome more than 2.7 million overseas visitors last year."

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