Scotland

'Staycations' lift for Scottish tourism

Eilean Donan Castle
Image caption The figures showed a 10% increase in visits to Scotland from within Great Britain

The "staycation" market helped push up Scottish tourism figures last year, according to official statistics.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the number of overnight visitors to Scotland rose by 9% in 2011.

There was also a 10% increase in visits to Scotland from within Great Britain, and a 20% rise in the amount spent by domestic visitors.

Internationally, the number of visitors remained relatively static.

However, the latest ONS figures indicated tourist numbers from North America rose by 15% from 2010 levels.

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: "These encouraging figures show just how resilient Scottish tourism is.

"The 9% increase in visitors to Scotland shows growth in one of our key sectors and is good news for Scotland's wider economy, especially in the current global economic climate.

"These figures are a reflection of the hard work being done by Scotland's tourism industry, and of the innovative marketing campaigns VisitScotland has created, both at home and overseas."

In February, the Scottish Parliament's economy committee warned that a target for a 50% boost in Scotland's tourism industry by 2016 could not be met.

The 10-year Scottish government growth plan was set in 2006, before the global economic crisis hit.

In a report, the Holyrood committee cited industry concern the target was "not considered achievable".

Scottish tourism is worth £4.2bn every year and employs about 215,000 people, according to trade association, the Scottish Tourism Forum.

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