Scottish tourism figures boosted by 'staycations' rise

Eilean Donan Castle Scotland attracted more visitors and saw higher spend by tourists, according to the latest figures

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A rise in the popularity of "staycations" has helped boost the number of visitors to Scotland, according to official figures.

Tourist numbers rose by 5% in the 12 months to March, while visitors spent 15% more over the year.

The number of visits to Scotland from within Great Britain were up 6%, with a small rise in international visits.

The figures were released by the Office for National Statistics and the Great Britain Tourism Survey.

They also showed a 21% rise in the amount domestic visitors spent, while international tourists spent 4% more.

However, the Scottish government cautioned that the quarterly figures were based on a small sample size.

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said the continued growth in Scotland's tourism sector was "encouraging, especially in the current global economic climate".

He added: "This is one of our key industries and increases in visitor numbers and the amount they spend on their trips are good for Scotland's wider economy.

"The Scottish government will continue to work with VisitScotland, the national tourism organisation, and our other agencies to promote everything that Scotland has to offer across the world."

'Quality destination'

Scottish Tourism Alliance chairman Stephen Leckie said that although Scotland was not immune from concerns about the global economy, it was encouraging to see continued growth in the tourism sector.

"In this climate we will need to work ever-harder both together and as individual businesses to support the tourism 20/20 strategy launched last month to make Scotland a quality destination of 'first choice'."

This week, figures released by accountancy firm PKF suggested a rise in occupancy and revenues for Scottish hotels in May.

The survey found occupancy levels increased by 0.6%, compared with slight falls in England and Wales.

Rooms yield in Scotland rose by 3.1%, outperforming the rest of the UK.

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