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Scotland's tourism facts

Loch Brandy - Credit Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam

Tourism industry in Scotland

Latest stats and facts on Scotland's tourism industry. Published February 2021.

Tourism pre-Covid

Tourism has had a key role to play in sustaining many of Scotland’s regional and local economies - creating jobs, adding vibrancy and enhancing our places, and helping to improve our health and well being.

In 2019, Scotland received

  • 13.8 million overnight domestic visitors from Scotland and elsewhere in Great Britain
  • Around 3.5 million international overnight visitors
  • 133 million day visitors
  • Total visitors spending a combined £11.5 billion

Prior to the pandemic crisis, the sector employed 229,000 people – around 1 in 12 jobs across Scotland – and was a major employer in our cities and rural areas. Turnover for the tourism industry was £7.7 billion in 2018 (3.3% of Scotland's total).

Young travellers at Pittenweem Harbour. Location shoot with Channel 4 and VisitScotland in an interactive campaign for E4. Credit Visit Scotlanbd/Kenny Lam

Tourism outlook

The visitors Scotland receives from overseas are a vital route through which Scotland reaches and engages with the international community, their experiences forming and influencing perceptions of Scotland as a place to visit, work and do business in.

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on tourism and hospitality with the contraction in activity greater in activities related to tourism than in the economy overall.

VisitBritain forecasts suggest international visits to Scotland will have declined by 78% in 2020 compared to 2019, with spend having declined by 85% to £388 million.

VisitBritain also forecasts that spending from domestic overnight and day visitors in Scotland will both have reduced in 2020 by around 50% from 2019 levels, to £1.6 billion and £2.8 billion, respectively.

Reductions in demand of this scale will pose significant challenges to employment and activity within the tourism sector.

Scottish tourism stats

14,970 companies

8.4% of Scotland's total companies (2019)

229,000 employment

8.8% of Scotland's total employment (2019)

£4.1bn GVA

2.9% of Scotland's GVA (2018)

Company insight

Tourism companies surveyed in late November/early December 2020
  • 78% reported reduced turnover in Summer/Autumn 2020 compared to 2019
  • 64% peak occupancy among accommodation providers in Summer/Autumn 2020 (vs 89% in 2019)
  • 35% staff made redundant in 2020. 69% put on furlough.
  • 73% expect to survive the crisis but most anticipate making changes to do so
V&A Dundee - Photo credit Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam

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